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How Gold Fields Australia is dealing with the impacts of Covid-19 - Mining Technology

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Earlier this year, Mining Technology reported on the importance of Australia's mining sector, its meteoric rise in recent months, and how it continues to be a "bastion of stability and profitability amid the uncertain times of the Covid-19 pandemic". Just days later, one of the world's largest gold miners made an announcement that reinforced that.

South Africa's Gold Fields Ltd said that it was awarding its Australian workforce a significant 6% pay rise, although it stopped short of calling it that. The news meant the company's 1,400 strong Western Australia-based workforce could expect between A$300 and A$600 extra in their monthly pay packets, beginning in April 2021.

"This is recognition of what we've asked our workers to do over the past 12 months but also the phenomenal result they delivered for our company," said Stuart Mathews, Gold Fields Australia's executive vice president. He said that the company had asked a lot of its workers, particularly due to the pandemic and robust measures implemented by state and federal authorities.

"We asked them to have extra discipline in what they do, to really focus on safety; they changed roster arrangements for three months and we also asked people to stay on site because of the risk to the community when we had a five-day lockdown in Perth," Mathews continued. "We've also had people stay in the state while their family and kids were interstate and some haven't been home for six months because of the border situation."

Australia's mining boom

However, the pandemic is just half the story. The mining sector in Australia is thriving; in fact, it's positively booming according to industry experts, who say that what we're seeing today is reminiscent of previous industry booms.

Anecdotal evidence supports that theory. ABC News recently reported from the Western Australian city of Kalgoorlie, where business owners talked of their desperation to attract workers to the backdrop of a flourishing mining sector. Speaking to the news outlet, one butcher said: "For the industries that aren't mine related, it's a bit hard to compete with the good wages that those guys get."

Deeper into the story of Gold Fields' pay award, further evidence of the boom can be found. The company said that for Australia, it was increasing the bonus it offers to employees who successfully introduced new candidates. If new workers passed a six month probationary period, the individual who connected the two would receive a A$10,000 bonus, up from the previous A$3,000.

Mathews said: "I'm looking out my window in Perth and there's construction going on all around me, and these people don't need to take a mining job because they're getting paid really well. There's plenty of work on, they don't need to go FIFO (fly-in fly-out); so we are going to have to look at different ways to attract workers."

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