Companies operating in South Australia’s resources sector may need 35,000 additional mining employees over the next 16 years, according to new research from the Resources and Engineering Skills Alliance (Resa).

The new jobs would be in addition to the 15,000 who were currently employed in the sector.

RESA chief executive officer Phil de Courcey said it is important to appreciate that this estimate is more than double the number in South Australia’s resources sector at present.

"It poses a serious challenge of where the state sources these employees and whether we can access the right talent pool in sufficient numbers to meet this rapid growth in workforce demand for advanced mining projects," de Courcey said.

The research follows a RESA report earlier in 2013, which found that the number of workers employed in the sector would remain fairly constant over the next seven years without taking into consideration the new mining projects to be commissioned.

de Courcey said that the soon to be released study results will show that in addition to these existing 20 resources projects, there are expected to be around 40 new mining and infrastructure projects up to 2030 that will require an additional 35,000 employees.

"The precise data is being finalised but there is no doubt that South Australia can look forward to a strong growth of mining-based employment across the three spheres of supply chain companies, developing mines and operational mines," he said.

RESA noted that the initial findings are pointing to an acute shortage, particularly by 2018, in some occupations.

According to RESA, early indicators point towards the highest demand being for crusher and dragline operators, exploration drillers, laboratory assistants, underground and open-cut miners and mobile plant and process plant operators.

Commenting on the early findings, South Australian Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills Grace Portolesi said the Government is a supporter of the mining and resources sector and welcomes continued growth.

"This is why this government has invested in skills for the sector by investing over $38m in the Mining, Engineering and Transport Centre at Regency TAFE and over $17m in Skills for All-funded training related to the mining and resources sector in 2012-13," Portolesi said.

Image: South Australia’s resources sector currently employs 15,000 people. Photo: Courtesy of