After many false dawns and disappointments, the increase in mining activity – including investment, exploration, projects, operations and recruitment – we noted in our last Mining Job Market Report has continued and accelerated in late 2016 and early 2017.
This increase in activity has coincided with large numbers of baby boomers leaving the sector, creating conditions for upward pressure on salaries and increased competition for the best mining talent. The majors in particular have increased recruitment activity following a long period of retrenchment.
While operations continued to represent the majority of hires handled by Stratum in the latter half of 2016, activity in projects, exploration and executive or board level hires all increased. We believe executive hires will plateau for a time as many miners already have the leadership teams they need to lead them to recovery, following a peak in hiring activity in 2015.
In operations, it’s technical services roles that have experienced the greatest activity. In project development, project management still dominates, followed by construction. We anticipate an increase in demand for project execution professionals in Q4 2017 – Q2 2018.
In our travels and conversations with mining leaders over the last six to nine months, we’ve come across miners in all the major continents making positive plans for investment. The increase in gold, zinc and copper prices has certainly helped, with three of the top ten mining M&As in late 2016 involving the red metal as miners seek to respond quickly. Even coal has recovered far more rapidly than anticipated.
Exploration is increasing, suggesting this is a recovery that is considered to be sustainable, without showing signs of another boom and bust cycle. We must, of course, beware of complacency but at Stratum we are preparing for a positive future for our clients and candidates.
Click here to download the full Mining Job Market and Salary Report H2 2016.
Will Coetzer, Managing Partner, Stratum International