Geos on the downside of the resource rollercoaster

Posted September 23, 2015

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Australian Institute of Geoscientists federal councillor and secretary Adrian Diaz lost his full-time job with a consultancy in 2013.

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Employers are taking advantage of the geoscience jobs crisis, offering below-award conditions to those struggling to find work, a senior geologist says.

Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) federal councillor and secretary Adrian Diaz was commenting as new figures show employment in mineral exploration crashed in the first half of 2015.

The AIG data also showed geoscientists were facing the lowest employment levels since that group began its Australian Geoscientist Employment surveys in mid-2009.

Mr Diaz, a Brisbane resident, urged other Queensland geologists seeking work to be aware of minimum employment conditions, as set out in the Fairwork Australia: Professional Employees Award 2010.

His warnings are sparked by his own experiences since being made redundant from a well-paid consultant geologist role in 2013 with Xstract Mining Consultants.

Mr Diaz said on one occasion he was offered a below-award rate by a small consultancy.

“On another occasion I was verbally offered the minimum rate in accordance to the Professional Employees Award 2010 but with the condition for me to pay my travel expenses as well as accommodation and meals, which is also against the award,” he said.

“When I tried to negotiate an appropriate rate and working conditions with the potential employers, they said that geologists are no longer in the situation to dictate the condition of employment.”

Mr Diaz is volunteering his time with the AIG while seeking employment, holding positions as a federal councillor, secretary and Queensland branch committee member.

A geologist with a master’s degree and post-graduate certificate, Mr Diaz has been in the mining industry for more than 10 years.

Since his 2013 redundancy he said he had been lucky to find short contracts with the Queensland Government and two more consultancies. But Mr Diaz said he had been unemployed since February and was now looking for work in any field.

AIG president Wayne Splisbury said geoscientists were aware of the cyclic nature of the industry, but the current downturn was without precedent in the memories of Australian geoscience professionals.

He warned that the loss of employment opportunities in minerals exploration signalled other problems including an erosion of the project pipeline.

Figures from AIG’s latest Australian Geoscientist Employment survey show the combined unemployment and underemployment rate amongst professional geoscientists in Australia at June 2015 was 35.1 per cent. (More than 15 per cent of these were unemployed).

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