Unemployment in Australia's minerals industry has increased to almost 11% from less then two percent in the past year, according to new research by the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM).
The survey, conducted across the institute's 13,500 members, revealed that unemployment among minerals professionals in Australia grew to 10.9% in July 2013, compared to 1.7% for the same period in 2012.
According to the survey, in July 2012 only 2.9% of employed minerals professionals reported that they wanted to work more hours, considering themselves as 'under-employed'.
The research however revealed that by July 2013 many of the under-employed have now found themselves unemployed.
About 60% of those surveyed believed there will be even fewer professional jobs available in a year's time.
The institute said the survey shows some significant regional variations, with New Zealand professionals faring slightly better than their Australian counterparts, reporting an 8.7% rate of unemployment in the country's minerals industry.
AusIMM president Geoff Sharrock said the research confirmed evidence of considerable pain and disruption within the professional ranks of the minerals sector.
"Traditionally, a downturn in mining industry investment and operations impacts first on exploration geologists and then other professionals, including mining and metallurgical engineers," Sharrock said.
"This research shows that the impacts this time have been sudden and have bitten deeply into the professional employees who are central to finding, developing and running the mining operations that underpin our economy."
AusIMM CEO Michael Catchpole said the increase in unemployment and under-employment are being felt right across the mining sector and are impacting people working for major mining companies, as well as those involved in exploration and consultancy work.
"The AusIMM will use the results of this research to work with governments and the minerals industry to address some of the policies and practices that perpetuate steep fluctuations in demand for skilled professionals, as the industry responds to external factors and government policies lag behind fast-changing market conditions," Catchpole said.
Image: Unemployment among mineral professionals in Australia grew to 10.9% in July 2013. Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.