The balance: how much can I earn working in a residential mining job?


Does a residential mining job impact how much you can earn compared to a FIFO job?

The last boom conditioned us to think of mining jobs through the prism of high wages and fly-in fly-out rosters.

But mining offers a far more diverse range of opportunities than the old cliché (and even the cliché isn’t what it once was). Some residential miners, for example, wake up in the morning, have breakfast with their kids, get in the car, arrive at work five minutes later, work all day, and they’re back home at night to tuck their kids into bed.

Understandably, for many people, that kind of work-life balance makes taking a residential mining job a very attractive alternative to a FIFO role.

RELATED: Do I move my family to take up a residential mining job

There are huge lifestyle benefits to residential mining and a lot that is down to the rosters you’re on. They’re shorter than FIFO rosters because the mining companies don’t need to consider the cost efficiencies around getting hundreds of employees to site each week while maintaining production.

The most common roster in a residential mining town, such as Kalgoorlie, is what’s called an “even time roster”. This means that you’re working as many days on in a swing as you are having days off.

What’s the pay like in residential mining?

If you’re considering a residential mining role it’s worth noting the pay levels are often slightly lower than for FIFO roles. This is in part due to the shorter rosters and it can catch an unprepared miner off guard. This is particularly the case because the hourly rates are often similar.

For example, someone working a 3/1 roster earning $45 per hour would average a base salary of roughly $147,800 a year. If a company were to offer you a residential role on an even time roster that pays $48 per hour, that might sound like a pay rise but in actual fact, the salary equates to $105,100 a year before tax.

Mining People’s Manager of Workforce in Kalgoorlie, Kylie Nunweek said it is important to weigh up the whole picture before making the move into residential mining.

“I’ve seen cases where someone has wanted to change rosters to spend more time with their wife and kids but then get sucked into roles on the exact same rosters they were on in FIFO roles, because they pay a higher wage than their current position,” she said. “They’re right back where they started, not seeing the wife and kids very much, but with a few extra dollars in their pocket.”

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Making the switch to residential mining

Kylie says anyone taking a serious look at a residential mining job should consider the following points:

  • Look at your finances – research housing and living costs compared to what you pay now (mortgage/rentals rates, electricity, water, fuel, etc). What are you spending more on that you could do without?
  • Remember why you’re making the change – what would it mean to your family (or any other commitments) if you were home more often than you are right now?
  • Could there be a roster that offers the best of both worlds? Could you meet in the middle? Maybe a 5/2 roster, 9/5 roster or 4/3 roster?

RELATED: What’s it like living in Kalgoorlie?

So, there is, potentially, a trade-off to be made if you take a residential mining job.

That doesn’t mean the wages aren’t still good. It doesn’t mean the career opportunities aren’t still fantastic. And it doesn’t mean sacrificing a small premium on your salary in order to get more balance in your life isn’t absolutely the right thing to do. It just means you need to think about it and be prepared.

Time to look for a residential mining job? MPi has been a mining industry recruitment specialist for more than 24 years. Register with us here and let us help you find the right job.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International