The Bowen Basin in Queensland is one of the hot spots for mining jobs.
Despite a weakening of global commodity prices of precious metals and minerals, don’t rule out the possibility of getting a mining job just yet.
Australia has an abundant supply of natural resources like coal, iron ore, gold, copper, nickel and despite less than positive press coverage over the past few months, there are still opportunities to start a career in mining.
Of course, there has been an adjusting of the workforce as some projects ceased to go ahead owing to the massive investment required as well as a natural part of a business cycle which is to reduce operating costs in order to remain competitive in an ever-changing market. However, there are still many, many coal mining projects producing the black gold from areas like the Bowen Basin in Queensland.
Where is the Bowen Basin?
The Bowen Basin is found West of Mackay and runs approximately all the way to Maryborough. The coal resources are colossal with much of the high-quality bituminous coal (black coal) is lying close to the surface allowing the use of open-cut, drill and blast extraction, as well as underground mining.
Coal mining in the Bowen Basin in Queensland has been carried on there since huge coal deposits were found in 1878 by a government geologist called Robert Logan Jack and covers an area of over 60,000 square kilometres in Central Queensland running from Collinsville to Theodore. It was named after Queensland’s first Governor, Sir George Bowen.
In the 1920’s the area around Collinsvale was one of the first mining centers in Queensland. Back in 2006, 60 per cent of Australia’s exported coking coal was being mined in the basin. There are currently around 47 coal mines (operational), 25 mineral mines and 30 medium to large (>50 000 tonnes/year) extractive quarries operating in Central Queensland.
Jobs in Queensland mines?
There are around 260,000 people working in the Australian mining industry. This totals only 1.8% of the Australian workforce. There has been a massive increase in the number of people employed in mining in the last decade were 80,000 people worked in mining in Australia. Mining industry employment peaked in the fifth month of 2012, showing a figure of 276,300 employees.
The Bowen Basin produces all of Queensland’s high-grade coking coal, and much of the export thermal coal. The mines produced 180 million tonnes of coal in 2009-10. A figure that accounts for 87 per cent of Queensland’s total output, and creates around 29 550 full-time jobs in mining, with many more thousands of workers employed as contractors and support services roles.
Australia is the largest exporter of coal in the world and productivity increases are paving the way for more efficient mining operations to be commonplace in the sector. Queensland coal exports increased from 40.3Mt in the September quarter 2012 to 48.6Mt in the December quarter. Extraction and production volumes for thermal and metallurgical coal increased significantly, especially from the Dalrymple Bay and Gladstone ports.
Mining jobs are still highly sought after. High salaries and opportunities for career advancement are the main draw cards for people looking for a career in mining, especially in the Bowen Basin where mining activity is set to increase.
Recently mining company Bandanna Energy said it will proceed with a coal project in the Bowen Basin despite a slowdown in the resources sector.The company is hoping to start production from a new mine at Springsure Creek, south of Emerald in 2015.
This project looks to be a profitable one owing to drilling exploration showing high quality coal reserves and extraction costs being low, compared to other operators. This proposed coal mining project shows there is still a lot of opportunity for people who want to work in the mining and resource sector in the Bowen Basin.
Additionally, there are a number of coal mining projects in the feasibility stage. Once operational, these mines will be responsible for the creation of 1000’s of jobs in mining in the Bowen Basin, not only in coal extraction, but in minerals processing (washing, crushing etc), logistics and ship loading operations.
Looking ahead, the resource sector has a need for highly-skilled people such as geoscientists, engineers, mobile plant operators, technicians, electrical and mechanical tradespeople.
Where to find mining jobs is a common question asked of iMINCO, especially for new starters in the industry. Support service mine jobs like cleaners, cooks, housekeepers, drivers and office administration staff are always in demand because of the high turnover of staff who either can’t commit to the FIFO lifestyle, or they simply leave the industry and move on.
The Queensland Minerals and Resource Council estimates expansion of the sector means the creation of approximately 40,000 new jobs in Queensland alone by 2020. This also includes the 66 projects under development, including the expansion of the coal-seam (CSG) gas to liquified natural gas (LNG) industry, with skills demand being driven by the construction job requirements.
Queensland Mining Jobs – how to get into the sector
Finding a job in the sector can involve a number of factors including having a required skill set and relevant industry experience. If you’re looking to get into a Queensland mining job with no experience, the pathway to finding the right job in the Bowen Basin, or indeed in any mining area is very different for those people already working in the sector.
New starters, often called ‘clean skins’ find it a challenge to even get an interview when the jobs are advertised. There are many reasons why this can be the case. Training and qualification requirements can vary significantly between mining companies.
Many companies will have site-specific induction training, or mining induction course which is an introduction to the actual workings of the mine as well as covering Occupational Health and Safety issues, which is a primary focus for every company involved in the mining sector.
Recommended courses, qualifications and advice for new starters in the Queensland mining industry
- Mining Induction – a 2 day introductory mining course, (with a pre-reading assessment) with a focus on safety in the workplace. Once this course has been completed, the qualification is valid for 5 years for the Queensland coal mining and metaliferous industry.
- Coal Board Medical. When you work in the Bowen Basin, or any other region of Queensland where there is mining activity, you need to be physically healthy. The Coal Board Medical is a medical assessment you must pass before you will be offered employment in the industry.
- Have a professional resume writer look over your resume and offer some advice to make it mining specific. Your resume is the first ‘touch point’ with a mining recruiter, and more often than not, there is one step before this that doesn’t even involve a human.Resume scanning machines review most resumes as they arrive in digital format.Each job being advertised will be loaded with specific keywords that are placed in the document by the advertiser to ‘weed out’ the people who do not match the basic requirements.These keywords can vary, however, the resume scanning devices are looking for evidence of training and qualification on your resume.For instance the RII (Nationally recognised qualifications developed for the Resources Infrastructure Industry.) are well known in the industry, but without these appearing on your resume, your chances of getting past the first hurdle are greatly increased.
- Practice your interviewing skills. You’ll more than likely be asked a lot of questions, so it’s best to be prepared. iMINCO has created an information page to help you called How to interview for a mining job
- Build your mining knowledge by reading mining articles and familiarise yourself with mining terms and the locations of the mining activity in Queensland and the Bowen Basin. If you have a good understanding of the industry, when you get an interview you can impress your interviewer with your knowledge, showing him/her you are more than just a regular worker and that you have a keen understanding of the company.
- Think about doing additional courses like an underground mining course, if you really want to earn the big bucks, as a high volume of people prefer to work above ground in the open-cut environment.
- If you are a trades person or civil machinery operator, you may want to transfer your skills and qualification to the mining sector and be fully recognised in the industry. Black coal competency courses allow you to demonstrate your skills in an environment where your ability to perform a task is assessed by an independent assessor who is qualified to authorise you to work in a mining environment.
- We mentioned before about the importance of having on your resume, certain qualifications and competencies to allow the resume scanning devices to pick up the mining industry RII codes. The more references to these codes on your resume the better, which suggests you can benefit by enrolling in additional mining courses such as:
- A light vehicle and 4 Wheel Drive course
- An Enter and Work in Confined Spaces course
- A Work Safely at Heights course
- A First Aid course
- Gas Test Atmospheres course
- Underground Mining course- Escape from Hazardous Situations
Reference: Queensland Mining Jobs – Bowen Basin