SYDNEY Jan 7 Geoscientists working in Australia
have been hit hard by the demise of a decade-long mining boom,
with the number of newly unemployed accelerating at a dramatic
pace, a sector survey released on Monday showed.
Unemployment among geoscientists doubled in the second half
of 2012, according to the the Australian Institute of
Geoscientists, which include some engineering and geology
disciplines, are responsible for finding new sources of
petroleum and metals by studying physical aspects of the earth
and are integral to most mining companies.
The institute, which conducted a survey of the employment
prospects for those in the field, said the results confirm
unemployment and underemployment among Australia's geoscientists
was rising in the aftermath of layoffs and belt-tightening by
The unemployment rate in the sector was 6.1 percent in the
second half of 2012 versus 2.9 percent in the first-half of
2012, it said.
This compares with a national unemployment rate average of
5.3 percent between July 1 and Nov. 30, according to the latest
available government figures.
"Almost 65 percent of unemployed geoscientists lost their
positions during the fourth quarter of 2012, a direct reflection
of the mining sector downturn," AIG's president, Kaylene Camuti
Frantic demand from a fast-industrialising China for
commodities over the last decade until recently shielded
Australia from the global downturn and prompted $400 billion in
investment. Desperate to retain staff, six-figure salaries and
elaborate extras for everyone from geologists to truck drivers
"Unfortunately geoscientists, particularly those employed in
resource exploration, appear to very much be the canaries in the
coal mine by being first to feel the impact of any downturn in
resource sector activity," Camuti said.
But not every mining company is contracting, particularly if
it involves iron ore, where prices have rebounded sharply on
renewed Chinese demand.
Australia's three largest producers, Rio Tinto
, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals
Group, are each ramping up output at their mines.
Iron ore prices .IO62-CNI=SI are the highest in more than
a year. At the same time, the price of nickel, another
key Australian export, is nearly the lowest in three years.
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)