AusIMM Professional Employment Survey 2017

A detailed insight into the current state of professional employment in the resources sector, which suggests that the industry is returning to a stable employment market


The AusIMM is the peak body for professionals and managers in the resources sector and represents 13 000 members working in Australia and internationally.

Every year, the AusIMM conducts its annual Professional Employment Survey, which provides a detailed insight into the current state of the employment market for professionals in the resources sector.

The information gathered will play a key role in AusIMM’s policy and communication initiatives throughout the next 12 months. The AusIMM will continue to advocate for employment stability in the resources sector to ensure there is a manageable pipeline of professionals into the future, thereby ensuring the viability of the industry as a whole.

In June 2017, the AusIMM invited all members to complete the survey. In addition to collating and interpreting employment and unemployment data amongst resources industry professionals, the 2017 survey also included questions relating to remuneration.

It is important that we have a representative sample from our membership; in 2017 we received a significant response to the survey of 1955, with these responses distributed evenly across all major AusIMM membership demographics in line with previous years.

It is evident from the results of the 2017 survey that the resources sector is returning to a stable employment market, with a reduction in overall unemployment. On current trends, unemployment rates in the sector will return to national unemployment levels within 12 months. Remuneration results indicate a stagnation in professional salaries since 2014.

The key themes to emerge from this year’s survey include:


  • falling unemployment with unemployment rates amongst Australia-based AusIMM members dropping from 14.1 per cent in 2016 to 7.4 per cent in 2017, compared to a national unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent
  • a remarkably low unemployment rate for female resources professionals, down to 3.7 per cent from 8.7 per cent in 2016. This is in contrast to male resources professionals, whose unemployment rate is at 8.1 per cent (down from 14.3 per cent in 2016)
  • reduction in reports of redundancies in the year July 2016 to June 2017, down to 9.1 per cent from 16.4 per cent in 2016 and 15.5 per cent in 2015
  • a higher proportion of members who are unemployed are in the category of long-term (more than 12 months) unemployed

Industry outlook

  • improved confidence in employment opportunities with 65 per cent of respondents anticipating increased industry opportunity in the next 12 months (up from 29 per cent in 2016) and 56 per cent expecting improved opportunities for themselves personally (compared with 32 per cent in 2016)
  • improvement in student confidence in employment within the sector postgraduation; increasing to 45 per cent from 34 per cent in 2016 and 29 per cent in 2015

Remuneration and benefits

  • survey data suggests that real wage growth is flat in 2017
  • a gender pay gap is evident in survey data with female members reporting lower wages than their male counterparts in all career levels other than Level 1 (graduate)
  • key employer-employee metrics of benefits including professional development support continued to decline in 2017, according to survey responses.

Survey demographics

Demographic analysis from this survey indicated our sample is broadly consistent with AusIMM’s underlying membership distribution. An overwhelming majority of survey respondents (79.8 per cent) reside within Australia, with two per cent of respondents in New Zealand and the remaining 18.2 per cent based throughout Asia and internationally. Within Australia, most respondents were from the major mining states, with 38.5 per cent based in Western Australia, 27.1 per cent in Queensland, 15.2 per cent in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, 11.4 per cent in Victoria and Tasmania and 7.8 per cent in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

The age of survey respondents was representative of the broader membership, with all age groups represented with a comparable distribution to the membership. Male respondents made up 84.7 per cent of respondents with females accounting for 15.3 per cent of responses. This ratio is comparable to the broader AusIMM membership, which comprises 13.6 per cent women and 86.4 per cent men.

Over 90 per cent of survey respondents were classified as part of the workforce. This meant that they were either employed in any form including casual, part-time, full-time or voluntary; or actively looking for work. Results included in this report addressing unemployment and remuneration relate only to those respondents categorised as being part of the workforce.

Almost 50 per cent of workforce respondents are qualified in mining or process engineering (including metallurgy/chemical/materials engineering or geotechnical engineering).

Geoscientists made up a very large cohort of respondents (39.4 per cent of the workforce), with exploration and mining geologists being the major sub-disciplines at 18.5 and 13.9 per cent of the survey workforce respectively.


After rising sharply from a low of 1.7 per cent in 2012 to a peak of 16.2 per cent in 2015, unemployment fell slightly in 2016 to 13.5 per cent. Results from the 2017 survey show a significant drop in unemployment to 7.4 per cent for Australia-based mineral industry professionals and 8.2 per cent for members globally. In Australia, unemployment amongst resources sector professionals is still above the national trend of 5.6 per cent; however, this gap has closed significantly in the past 12 months.

This fall in AusIMM member unemployment does not appear to be driven by an increased uptake in jobs external to the industry, as only four per cent of members indicated they are employed outside the sector, which is comparable to 4.2 per cent shown in 2016 survey responses. Figure 1 shows the percentage of Australia-based respondents in the workforce experiencing unemployment as at June-July 2017. Figure 1 also shows national Australian unemployment data derived from Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), with comparisons between the years 2012 (prior to industry downturn) and 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Read the full article from the AusIMM Bulletin.


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