How to get a job on a mine site in Australia

If you don’t know anyone to get you in, get your foot in the kitchen door !

You’ve just arrived in Australia, ready for the backpacking experience. You expect it to be fun and easy especially because of a mate who has been there before and told you that it ‘s easy to get a job picking fruits or working in bars, restaurants…

Then, you put your bag in a crappy but cheap hostel… You notice that your cheap hostel in India was still more hygienic than this one… Interesting : Twelve people in a dormitory… You had never heard about bed bugs before… well, you will but hey, that’s part of the experience.

First time in an Australian supermarket and you realize that even if you feed yourself off instant noodles, your savings are not going to last long if you don’t get a job… Anyway, you quickly start to meet people : some already have a job (hope!), some are still looking for one… « – What ? You’ve been looking for a job for 2 weeks ? ». Seems wrong : It ‘s not your definition of « easy » as your mate told you. Anyway, you print your resume and you are ready to do anything to make some money. You go to every bar, restaurant, shop and hand over your resume… and you realize that they are put on a pile of paper behind the counter : You’re the 10th person handing over your resume today and you are probably not the last one.

You hear that there is some harvest up north, a lot of jobs, good money… See some guys at your hostel looking for travel mate to go up there and share the price of the gas… Seems interesting… A week after, you get the news that because of the weather, the harvest is delayed and there are a lot of backpackers stuck over there with no jobs… Not better than your situation in fact : a restaurant was ok to give you a job for 10h a week washing dishes but it’s on the other side of town and the train will cost you a third of your wages… Last hope : you know that a guy is leaving his waiter job next week and he has said that he’ll recommend you to his boss.

The more your savings are disappearing, the more you get stressed. How many more days before being short on cash, forced to leave the city and hitch-hike up north to, hopefully, find a fruit picking job ? And there is this guy at the hostel, relaxed, who doesn’t seems interested in getting a job and spend his day doing nothing. Then someone is telling you that he is working on a mining site and he is on his week off. Then, you learn about the mines : places where there are free food and accommodation and heaps of money to earn. Sounds like heaven after feeding yourself off instant noodle for a month. You wish you had heard about it before being broke to at least give it a try.

Well, I understand your feelings, I’ve been through this and if I had all the information I have today, after 5 month working on a mine site, my first weeks of job seeker in australia would have been more enjoyable and efficient. So, let me save you some stress and money and give you the information you should have the first day if you want to work on a mine site.

First solution : The catering companies

The easiest way to get in the mining industry when you don’t have any contacts in there is to work for a catering company. This is how you’ll get the mining experience and the contacts that will give you more work and maybe a better paid job.

A catering company on contract with a mining company will offer these kind of jobs : Chef, kitchen utility, industrial cleaner, bar staff.
There are five main companies to contact to work on mine site : Morris Corporation, ISS, Spotless, Sodexo and Action catering.

It’s unlikely that they’ll offer you a permanent position specially if you are on a W/H Visa. Nevertheless, they’ll probably recruit you to join their pool of casual workers which mean that you ‘ll move from one camp to another.

Second solution : The hiring companies

Most of the time, these catering companies are short on people (even if they tell you that « they don’t need anyone at the moment » when you apply) and they’ll use a hiring company to provide the extra workers. The hiring company is your second chance to get a job if the catering companies are not interested by your profile.
The companies I can advise you to contact are Hays and Skill Hire. There are many others but I don’t know how they work.

The recruitment process

The catering and the hiring company have the same way of recruiting people.
Give them a call, and mail them your resume if they request it. Then, if they like your profile, you are up for an interview (BTW, they’ll tell you that living on a mine site is hard. It’s not. Check this post) and if that goes alright, you’ll have to pass a medical check-up and a drug test. You might also need to get a police clearance ( go to the post office, around 50$).
Then you might have to do various online induction specific for each mining company.
After that, you wait for a call like « – Can you fly tomorrow morning to X camp for 2 weeks ? »
To increase your chance of being recruited :
  • Optimize your resume : Obviously, any previous experience in kitchen or cleaning must be emphasized on your resume. If you have a manual driving licence, mentioned it. You might have to drive on site and all the cars I drove were manuals. Mention anything showing that you have worked in some remote location and in harsh/hot weather. 
  • Get a white card : The course costs around 50$, and takes 3 hours to do online. This card show your employer that you have learned about safety rules on a construction site. This is a minimum requirement for some company and it’ll look good on your resume.

How much you’ll earn?

Considering that food, accommodation and flights are paid by the company, your salary is 100% pocket money. The pay rate is generally between 21$ and 29$ per hours. You’ll do between 10h and 12h a day all the week with just a day off every 14 days. At the end of the week, after tax, you’ll get around 1300$. It seems good for a backpacker but it’s actually really bad compared to the least qualified worker in the mine who get easily 35$/h.

The most important

Don’t screw up !  There are examples of backpackers getting jobs, arriving on the mine site, getting drunk the first night, breathing positive the next morning (some site will breath-test you everyday) and sent home the same day. Logically, the companies are getting more and more reluctant to hire backpackers. Please, think about the guys coming after you.

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15 réponses

  1. ISAAC ALPHONSE ANSAH dit :

    I thank God for you those who have secured jobs in there. My friends and I also want to relocate to Australia with secured job. Can you help us get connected? We are all Ghanaians

  2. Midhunkrishnan.pk dit :

    Good

  3. bruguet fabien dit :

    Hi Pierre! I’m currently in perth having many troubles to find any job. despite the fact that i tried with all the companies websites you provided, i couldn’t get any answer. could you have any other tip for me?tip?fome?

  4. steve dit :

    I work there as a fitter for Leighton and we are all on a base rate of $55 a hour at 12 hours a day

  5. Pierre dit :

    Yes. They are mainly in the cleaning and kitchen dept.

  6. kara dit :

    is there work girls to?

  7. Nick dit :

    Hi Charlotte,
    The best thing to do is go onto seek.com type in fifo cleaner or fifo utility. It should come up with some jobs with agencies such as Hays and compass. The best thing to do is to wait for the job to be advertised and then apply for that job rather than just sending your c.v in. Make sure to mention on your c.v that you have plenty experinece in the hospitality industry or you were a cleaner for a couple of years. Hope this was helpful.

  8. Pierre dit :

    That’s always better to have one, specially for mine site cleaning where you usually move around with a car but I had lot’s of job mates with no licence and they managed to get a job where you don’t need to drive… so it’s should not be too much of an issue for you.

  9. omar dit :

    No im happy to do any work no matter how crappy, just the opportunity wont come..

  10. Nick dit :

    Go to seek.com and type in fifo cleaner. It didn’t take long in face i’m in the mines now

  11. Pierre dit :

    Hello Omar, I cant’ tell you more than what I have already put on this post but If I was you, I would move to Perth or Port herdland to meet the hiring comp directly, If all the hiring company mentioned in this article are telling you on the phone that they don’t need anybody one day, call them again another day, get the name of the consultant in charge of the soft-services and try to get him or her directly. I met many Australian in hurry to get a high paid job on the mines, passing tickets of all kind but not willing to do the crappy work to get their foot in the door. They usually wait a long time or never make it. Maybe you are aiming to get a good position to quickly ? Good luck !

  12. Pierre dit :

    Wait till you arrive. Quite often, if they need people, they put you straight for interview,medical visit, drug testing. They don’t really plan anything in advance. The general rule is that they are always under or over staffed. It’s will be easier for someone with your type of experience. Make sure to bring some employer reference, they are likely to call them. After, you need a bit of luck too. Yes you can move up but not in the catering company. Go to the pub at night, meet people and discretely ask for advice. Good luck

  13. Craig dit :

    Hello Pierre, Thank you for writing this blog its very informative and I really hope it makes it possible for me to find a job in the mines when I arrive in Australia in January. I have experience in Industrial cleaning, cleaning, laboring, factory, bar and warehouse work. My questions to you are do I contact the 5 companies you have listed now or wait till I have arrived in Australia, is it really that easy to get a fly in fly out position as you have stated and finally when you get on the mine with experience can you move up.

  14. Pierre dit :

    Normally, in the morning, you’ll have the possibility to pack as much food you want from a buffet for your lunch and all the other break that you’ll have. No need to worry about food quantity, You’ll be well fed. No wonder why there are so many fat people on mining site… Sitting all day driving trucks… but no worries, cleaning jobs are likely to make you spend a fair bit of calories… go slow on the cakes though 😉

  15. Nick dit :

    Hey Pierre, I’ve recently got a job cleaning in the mines and fly out soon. Whats it like when it comes to eating times can I eat 6 times a day if I want. Thanks Nick

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