The big takeaways from this year's Explorer's Conference

picture of a bushland

Exploration investment is up. Here's what that means for mining job prospects.

The mood at this year’s RIU Explorer’s Conference in Perth was buoyant, as companies move closer to turning dreams into mines – and that means jobs are on the way.

Mining People’s Principal Consultant for Professional Technical Tony Turton was at the conference and said there was a genuine belief among those in attendance that the industry had “turned a corner”.

“The mood was more upbeat than last year,” Turton said. “There are several companies that were genuine explorers last year but now have real projects with strong potential to become mines over the next 12 to 18 months.

“Clearly people are able to access funds for exploration these days and so there is a genuine belief about being able to progress their projects in a meaningful way. 

“Capital funds are now available to enable projects and exploration to be advanced.”

Emerging skills shortage in Australian mining

There was some talk at the conference of an emerging skills shortage. That’s something MPi Newsroom has been warning about for the past year. Particularly affected are disciplines like geology. Geoscientist employment levels are picking up, with shorter-term contractors now much harder to secure.

RELATED: Experts warn of skills shortage

Also at the conference was MPi’s Senior Consultant for Mining and Geology Scott Deakin. He said there were many new mining job opportunities emerging, particularly in the junior to mid-level experience range.

“There was discussion around salaries and the fact permanent salaries are starting to incrementally creep up,” he said. “However, contract rates are moving north at a faster rate, albeit they are coming off a lower base considering they pulled back at a much higher percentage than permanent wages.”  

RELATED: The hardest jobs in mining to fill right now

Deakin said another of the big themes from the conference was battery metals and forecasts for electric vehicle (EV) demand, which he said was “clearly absorbing and influencing the direction of exploration budgets”.

Mining explorers see investment boom

“There was a general sentiment that we are certainly through the worst of the most recent downturn and the plight of junior explorers has started to swing from survival to growth and activity again,” Deakin said.

“Companies now appear to be able to raise substantially more funds than two to three years ago, say $5 to $10 million as opposed to $2 to $4 million. This inevitably leads to expanded programs of works, which is a great sign and required to replenish depleting ore bodies.”

Deakin said there also appeared to be an appetite from the larger companies for organic exploration growth, and acquisition or securing joint ventures with promising exploration juniors.”

If you’re looking for a job in mining or you’re an employer looking to fill a key position,  register with MPI  and give yourself the best possible chance of finding the right job or person for your vacancy.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International