Rising Wages Hit Gold Miners

Facing labor shortages, gold mining companies around the globe are boosting wages to attract and retain workers. 

Nevada Gold Mines, the largest industry player in Nevada that is jointly owned by Barrick Gold and Newmont Corporation, is recruiting for about 300 open positions. There are another 200 unfilled mining jobs in the state, according to the Nevada Mining Association. This is despite the fact that mining salaries have shot up. The median annual salary of an underground mining machine operator is $52,400, and for mining and geological engineers the median is $93,800, with potential to rise to $156,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Australia, mining companies are so eager to find truck drivers that they are recruiting retired soldiers and furloughed airline pilots. Miner Roy Hill Holdings recently struck an agreement with Qantas Airways to hire pilots while international travel is restricted. 

“A big, Hitachi 300-ton truck fully loaded weighs basically the same as an A-380 plane,” Roy Hill CEO Gerhard Veldsman told The Wall Street Journal. “If you’re an international pilot, you’re used to 12-hour shifts.” 

Mining industry truck drivers in Australia earn in excess of $100,000, and Roy Hill this year is offering truck drivers bonuses amounting to 50 percent of their base salaries.

Earlier this year, mining giant Gold Fields rewarded its Australian workers with a six percent increase in wages. It is also offering bonuses of as much as $10,000 for referring new workers. In South Africa, Gold Fields recently granted mine workers a new contract with annual wage increases of 6.5 percent over three years. 

Meanwhile, South Africa’s number three miner, Harmony Gold, in September reached a three-year agreement with mining unions that provides annual wage increases of at least seven percent.