Poll finds 1-in-5 mining employees plan to leave industry in 2022

Open Pit Dump Truck

Poll results: While sentiment about the year ahead for mining is positive, 1-in-5 employees are planning to exit the industry in 2022.

There’s an overwhelmingly positive view of the year ahead for the mining industry, but one-in-five employees are planning to exit the industry altogether, new data reveals.

Throughout December 2021 and January 2022, Mining People took the temperature of industry attitudes through our regular MPi Poll. Almost 130 people took the survey, most of whom work in mining. We asked them for their opinions on the future of the industry generally, their own job prospects, salaries, and future.

Here’s what they told us?

2022 looks good for mining

First, the good news. Almost two-thirds of respondents (64%) told us they thought the year ahead would be “much better” than 2021—a year when coronavirus, hard border closures, and other pandemic-related measures exacerbated a skills shortage from which the industry is still suffering.

Almost a third (32%) said the industry’s prospects for 2022 were “about the same” as last year. Less than 4% had a negative view, saying they thought the year ahead would be “much worse”.

This is only a sentiment survey, but the overwhelming positivity is a good sign for the mining industry at a time when the pandemic is still causing a lot of negativity and worry in society more broadly.

Mining job prospects and salary expectations in 2022

We also asked respondents for their opinions of their mining job and salary prospects compared to 2021.

When it comes to expectations around job prospects in 2022, the figures are similarly positive—and there’s a strong correlation between a positive view of the industry and a positive view of job prospects.

What do you think of the outlook for your mining job prospects in 2022, compared to 2021?

  • 69% - Much better
  • 29% - About the same
  • 2% - Much worse.

Given the general skills shortage in the industry, these figures are perhaps no surprise. But when it comes to salary expectations for the year ahead, the data finally diverges from the trend we’ve seen so far.

What do you think of the outlook for mining salaries in 2022, compared to 2021?

  • 55% - Much better
  • 44% - About the same
  • 1% - Much worse.

What does this data tell us? It’s hard to know for sure, but there are a couple of things we can imagine.

Firstly, it reflects the generally positive view of the year ahead for the industry. Secondly, despite that view, and despite the supply and demand equation in the industry, almost half of those working in the industry aren’t expecting the kind of massive pay inflation that has characterised the industry during previous skills shortages. It suggests, perhaps, that they’re happy with their remuneration levels. On the flipside, more than half of employees/candidates might feel the conditions are ripe to ask for more cash.

Who is thinking about a career change?

We also asked respondents whether they were management/supervisor level employees and whether they were thinking about leaving the industry. So, there’s a great opportunity to dig into the data and get a deeper impression of industry sentiment about jobs and salaries. This is where the good news gets a bit murkier.


About 55% of respondents were not supervisors or managers. Of those, almost a third (31%) said their job prospects in 2022 were “about the same” as last year, two-thirds said they were much better, and just under 2% said “much worse”.

The salary expectations were bang on the “two-thirds positive, one-third about the same” trendline.

But there’s also a level of mobility in those figures. We asked respondents if they were thinking of leaving the industry in the coming year.

Twenty per cent of non-supervisors/managers told us they were planning to leave mining altogether. Even among those who said mining salaries would be “much better”, one-in-four said they were planning to exit the industry. One-in-five who said their job prospects were much better in 2022 also said they were planning to leave mining.


There’s less movement on the horizon among supervisors and management level employees, with just over 10% saying they’re planning to exit the mining industry in the coming year.

Mass industry exodus? Trouble on the horizon

We asked respondents whether they were currently employed in the industry. Two thirds of them were. Of those who were currently employed in mining, 20% said they planned to leave the industry during 2022.

Ultimately, this is just a sentiment survey. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the future is hard to predict. But if those planning to leave the industry this year actually do so, mining companies everywhere are going to struggle to fill the gaps more than they already have.

And that’s just those planning to leave the industry. A company’s actual attrition rate is going to be much higher, as some employees switch companies.

It’s worth remembering that the sample size for our survey is small, so it’s hard to extrapolate with confidence. But if the reality is anything like that figure, HR departments and recruiters across the industry are going to have a busy year.

We’re digging a little deeper into this issue in our February poll, which is open now. In it, we’re asking industry employees how long they plan to stay in their current job. Keep an eye on our newsroom for the findings of that survey.

Mining heading into 2022

Putting the potentially busy exit lounge and the recruitment challenge that will create to one side, it’s good to remind ourselves that general sentiment for mining in 2022 is overwhelmingly positive. If people think the future is bright, they’re more likely to be happy, and happy employees are a good thing for everyone.

Mining People International has more than 27 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies find the best candidates across every job category. Find out more here or get in touch today.



Dan Hatch
Mining People International