In recent years China has proven itself to be a world economic powerhouse and a top destination for expatriates from various industries, who want to experience life living and working in China. The attraction for expatriates is not only because of China’s reputation of being an economic powerhouse, but also because China is rich in history and traditions. Expatriates in China not only earn lucrative salaries and gain international experience, but they have the opportunity of travelling and experiencing the beauty and history of China.

Given that China is also a heavy weight in mining, and has proved itself to be the top gold producer, this has been good news for mining expatriates, and even amidst the global mining downturn, the chinese market remains an attractive one for expatriates. China’s mining industry is a massive one and growing all the time. China has been producing huge amounts of gold for some time now and holds the spot at as the top world producer of gold now, and has done so for a period of 8 years. China has also increased its production of gold by over 5 percent, hitting around 450 metric tons.

Not only is China the world’s largest producer of gold, it is also the world’s largest consumer of gold. Although consumption is down by 24.7 percent from 2013 it is still the world’s largest consumer of gold. For this reason gold mining in China is a massive industry, and where there this type of production going on, there is always room for expatriate jobs in mining. One needs to remember that it also takes huge amounts of man power to get these quantities of gold out of the ground, and this creates job opportunities.

Expatriates wanting to work in China do however really need to be aware that the language barrier can be a problem and need to know that it is important, if possible, to be able to speak a little and understand at least some Mandarin. One of the biggest challenges that expats face as a whole in China is the language barrier. Apart from Chinese Mandarin, there are also a number of other dialects, so for expats having to learn Mandarin is hard enough, let alone the various other dialects spoken.

On the upside of things, the cost of living in China is also a lot less than it is in many Western countries such as Canada, the USA or Australia. According to ExpatArrivals a website dedicated to expatriates, expat salaries as a whole in China can be slightly lower than what you can expect to earn in some other regions. However because the cost of living in China is so much lower, you should be able to get by with ease on a salary substantially lower than what you are accustomed to back home. A salary of RMB 5.000 per month (approximately USD 800) is said to allow the same type of lifestyle that a salary of USD 2,500 would in the United States. For many expats, the question as to whether or not to move to China will depend not only on the job offering, but also on the savings potential. For highly qualified and skilled expats this is not so much of a concern as roughly 25% of expats in China are earning in the region of USD 200K. I did notice as well when comparing the salaries from those who have completed our salary survey of senior mining professionals who are working as expats in China that they are earning the same in dollar value as they would if they were working in Canada or the USA., which could make things extremely attractive financially considering that it is so much cheaper to live in China. This is not only the case for senior mining professionals but for those earning less, salaries can be a great draw card, especially if one is able to find themselves in a position where you can save at the end of each month, which many people are just not able to nowadays worldwide, as the cost of living in many regions is so high.

Expatriates do however need to weight up the pros and cons carefully, when considering job offers in China, especially those who have families. Health insurance is not cheap and education can be outrageously expensive, so it is important to ensure these costs are taken into consideration when considering an offer in China. There are a number of options that expats can look at when it comes to education, as there are the options of public, private and international schools that expats can chose from. The majority of expats will however send their children to the international schools, because of cultural and language barriers. These schools are very popular and there is often a waiting list for places in the school, so it’s important to do your homework and apply early. Many companies will incorporate these costs into your offer but ensure that they are not overlooked when contemplating an offer in China and if possible get the company to incorporate the costs, or make allowance for them in some way. There are also home schooling options available that expats can look at.

The Chinese are extremely disciplined and hardworking, and as an expatriate working in China, you will be expected to work very hard for your money. The work place can prove to be overwhelming at first for expatriates from some regions, who are not accustomed to the workload. Most expats are taxed around 20% of their salary but senior Mining professionals can expect to be taxed up to around 40% of their salary. Despite China’s amazing history and traditions, because of its immense economic growth, parts of China are very polluted and overcrowded and this can take some getting used to for those from other parts of the world. Safety is always a concern for expats but when working in China, but safety should not be high on your list of worries as serious and violent crime is not common in China. There is always a degree of petty crime and you do as in anywhere in the world need to be vigilant, but as a whole China is safe.

In order to work in China you will need a work permit, and the process to get one can be complicated and drawn out, and ideally you should use an immigration lawyer. For those in mining being transferred to China the company will normally handle all these issues, but regardless, you will need to apply for a work permit.

Although working in China may not be as lucrative as in some other regions of the world, there are some wonderful cultural benefits to working in China. If you have a yearning to explore new places and experience different cultures, considering an expatriate job in China has its advantages, but working in a foreign country especially where there is a language barrier is not for the faint hearted. You need to think very carefully about what is motivating you to make the move first, and it does need to be for the right reasons, as the expatriate life does have its trials and tribulations.


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