Inside the industry where university students are being snapped up

Budding student: Pamela Pinazzi is looking forward to full-time work

Budding student: Pamela Pinazzi is looking forward to full-time work 

Top mining students are being offered $100,000 jobs before they finish studying as mining wages hit record highs.

Twelve mining jobs command higher salaries now than during the resources boom which saw wages peak in 2014, according to a new report by advisory group BDO.

The wages are being pushed up by a skills shortage as new mines are built in the west at the same time as huge infrastructure projects in the east.  

For example, a maintenance superintendent can now earn $205,000 including super and allowances, compared to $198,000 during the boom.

Geologists, engineeers, electricians and excavators can also all earn more than ever before, with salaries ranging from $155,000 to $186,000.

Thousands of miners are set to capitalise on the rising wages, including some of Australia's best and brightest students who are in high demand.

Mining engineering students can often get a taste of the high wages before they even graduate, by taking part-time work that pays $30-40 per hour.

And when they enter full-time work, the minimum graduate salary is around $80,000 and can be as high $100,000 or more.   

Georgia Kerr, 21, is a mining engineering student at the Western Australia School of Mines in Kalgoorlie where she grew up.

She told Daily Mail Australia that many of her third year contemporaries already have jobs lined up even though they are a year away from graduating.

Thousands of miners are set to capitalise on the rising wages, including some of Australia's best and brightest students who are in high demand. Pictured: Mining students including WASM masters student Pamela Pinazzi (third from left)

Thousands of miners are set to capitalise on the rising wages, including some of Australia's best and brightest students who are in high demand. Pictured: Mining students including WASM masters student Pamela Pinazzi (third from left)

Georgia Kerr (pictured), 21, is a mining engineering student at the Western Australia School of Mines in Kalgoorlie where she grew up

Georgia Kerr (pictured), 21, is a mining engineering student at the Western Australia School of Mines in Kalgoorlie where she grew up

Mo Zhou, 26, is a student engineer at the WA School of Mines in Kargoolie who works on a six-month casual contract for a gold mining company

Mo Zhou, 26, is a student engineer at the WA School of Mines in Kargoolie who works on a six-month casual contract for a gold mining company

'Some people get summer work in their first year and so are already doing their jobs three years before finishing university,' she said. 

Miss Kerr switched to a mining degree from environmental engineering after working in a gold mine. 

'I love working in the mines in Kalgoorlie, the atmosphere and camaraderie is great,' she said.

'People think it's a fast-paced industry but actually it's slow and steady and you solve the puzzles as they come. If you rush too much it can become dangerous'.

Miss Kerr said she wants to focus on drill and blast work which involves planning and designing use of explosives to remove rock and get to the valuable material. 

Why are mining wages going up? 

1. Infrastructure boom in the east attracting workers

2. Low enrollment rates in university mining courses

3. Shortage of foreign labour after visa changes

4. New mines being built

Whichever company she chooses, her wages will be high, but her professors have cautioned her not to solely chase the money. 

'The teachers tells us that if we work hard the money will come to us - and it can be better to start at a small company where you can take on more roles and get more experience even if you are paid a bit less to start with'.  

Far from working in an air-conditioned office like many of their friends in different industries, mining graduates have to work for a year underground if they want to qualify for a management position in the future. 

'I'm keen to get my underground time done so I can move up into the planning of mines which I find really interesting,' said Ms Kerr.  

Mo Zhou, 26, is a student engineer who works on a six-month casual contract for a gold mining company.

'I work 12-hour days from 6am to 6pm, with seven days on, seven days off. The long shifts are challenging but the roster is pretty good,' he told Daily Mail Australia.

'I chose mining because it's a very diverse career. It's dynamic and challenging.

'I'm learning parts of civil engineering and geology at the same time as doing my job which mostly consists of inputting data on the computer systems.

Mr Zhou is lining up full-time work and hopes to quickly rise though the ranks. 

Pictured: Mining students including WASM masters student Pamela Pinazzi (centre back)

Pictured: Mining students including WASM masters student Pamela Pinazzi (centre back)

Rio Tinto's $2billion Brockman 4 iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

Rio Tinto's $2billion Brockman 4 iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

'The wage was not my main consideration although it of course helps to know that if you work hard you can move up the company and the rewards are there,' he said. 

A possible downside for mining students is that most have to live in remote towns, far from the glitz and glamour of Sydney and Melbourne. 

But Mr Zhou isn't worried about that.

'Kalgoorlie is a very peaceful town and it will thrive in the coming years because the gold price is above $2,000 and I think another gold rush is coming,' he said. 

The student said recent mining accidents should not put people off studying mining engineering.

 I love working in the mines in Kalgoorlie, the atmosphere and camaraderie is great

Mining student Georgia Kerr 

'People worry about safety but you are 100 per cent safe if you follow procedure. The companies train you very well.'

Pamela Pinazzi, 25, is doing a masters in mining engineering at WA School of Mines and already has a full time job lined up.

The Brazilian currently works part time for a gold mining company in Kalgoorlie and will start her full-time work in September. 

'When choosing mining, I'm sure young people look at the wages because they are really superior to other industries in Australia,' she said.

'And right now there are not enough qualified people so the wages are being pushed up'.

But Miss Pinazzi said wages were not her first thought when choosing to go into the industry.

'Where I'm from in Brazil there are lots of iron ore mines and so I became fascinated by it at an early age - it's more about doing something I really like,' she said.

Miss Pinazzi said she wanted to pursue a career in Australia or the US but decided on WASM because she worked with former director Professor Sam Spearing during an exchange program in the states.

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