The mining sector may once again have to look overseas for workers to fill engineering roles if enrolments and interest in mining engineering courses don’t improve.
WA School of Mines’ mining engineering enrolment figures revealed just 90 students were currently enrolled in courses as of last week – a drastic plunge from 2013’s 321 enrolments. 2018 student commencements (those in their first and second year of study) were also significantly lower than 2013, 142 compared to 24.
With plenty of new mines in the WA construction pipeline, including BHP’s $4.8 billion South Flank mine in the Pilbara, the issue of talent to make them a reality is on the industry’s radar. The Chamber of Minerals and Energy recently established a taskforce with its members, including BHP, to address the issue.
CME’s new chief executive Paul Everingham allayed concerns of any current ‘panic or crisis’ but said if the sector didn’t make an effort to turn students toward mining engineering now it could become one.
He said if demand for talent couldn’t be met locally or even from the east coast then overseas was the next option. “Once people see an economy with rapidly rising wages because of unmet demand then international professionals start looking at the market and saying it could be attractive,” he said.