Minerals and Energy

The minerals industry is a vital component of the Australian economy. It holds an important place in the history of Australia’s development and continues to make a substantial contribution to national income, exports and employment. A major contributor to employment and wealth within the community, the minerals industry employs a diverse range of graduates with qualifications in engineering, the sciences, business, commerce and, increasingly, information technology. It’s an industry that can be highly susceptible to fluctuations in the global economy.

The work

Career opportunities for graduates interested in entering the mining industry are diverse. The dominant professional groups are mining engineers, geologists, geophysicists, surveyors and metallurgists or mineral processing engineers, with smaller numbers of petroleum and chemical engineers. Other professionals also provide critical support services, so there are also opportunities for graduates from disciplines such as accounting, business, law, IT and science.

People working in the minerals industry can be involved in a range of activities such as strategic management, exploration, extraction, environmental management, processing of minerals, community and Indigenous relations, administration and marketing.

As a major exporter of resource commodities, the Australian minerals industry has grown significantly in recent times. In the five years to 2009, employment in mining increased by 70.6 per cent (creating 171,500 jobs) – the strongest employment growth of any sector over this period (www.skillsinfo.gov.au). The GFC-related downturn has stabilised and with the demand for minerals strengthening within China and India, growth is resuming.

Despite the downturn, there are still skill shortages within the industry, which means strong career and employment opportunities for graduates. Overseas opportunities will grow, as many mining companies shift their focus to their own international operations or to the provision of services to international mining companies.

(This profile also appears in GCA’s annual Graduate Opportunities directory. GCA would like to thank The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (The AusIMM) for assistance with this industry profile. For more information, visit www.ausimm.com.au.)

What you need

  • Engineering or science degree (mining-related role)
  • Degrees in environmental science, engineering, accounting, IT or marketing (support positions in the industry)
  • Work experience is a component of many degree programs in mining engineering, surveying or geoscience and often leads to graduate employment

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • Geologist: $60,000–$80,000
  • Geotechnical engineer: $48,800–$57,500
  • Mining engineer: $68,000–$92,000
  • Petroleum engineer: $65,000–$76,000

(Figures are taken from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 17% female workforce
  • 57% employed in Western Australia (geologists and geophysicists)
  • Positive outlook (26,200 new jobs, 2007–09)

(Sources: www.skillsinfo.gov.au; www.joboutlook.gov.au.)