On the 1st of February I released the first of this year’s Mining Workforce Planning Scans. Since that release I have come across two additional pieces of intelligence which have altered my viewpoint of where mining is currently. First let me detail the additional data.
The first is a mea culpa. At the time of release I was capturing data via a daily email update from Australian Mining which I believed contained all the daily stories. This turned out to be an assumption (of the make an ass out of me, not you kind). In fact by correcting my methodology (using the News archive facility) I was able to add 9-stories, or 4.8% more data to the January statistics.
The second and more interesting piece of intelligence was that over the weekend I was able to complete a data validation of the 2012 Australian Mining data (all 1963 stories) and then converted that to the new format to allow for additional analysis. More on that after a look at the updated January data.
Here is the updated January Workforce Planning Scan with a slightly reduced WH&S count (no additional stories) and a slightly higher Employment count (one addition). Augment and Diversity also increased slightly with an additional story each.
Figure 1: Australian Mining Workforce Planning Scan (Jan 2013). Data sourced from Australian Mining & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.
The updated January Positive/Negative Index has only two changes. Augment and Diversity both increase by +1 to the value of 1 with a positive story each.
Figure 2: Australian Mining Workforce Planning Positive/Negative Index (Jan 2013). Data sourced from Australian Mining & News Archive.
Updated January data with an additional nine stories as previously mentioned.
Table 1: Data for Australian Mining Workforce Planning Scan (Jan 2013). Data sourced from Australian Mining & News Archive.
When I initially looked at the finalised January data I came to the following conclusion:
To wrap up, I feel there is uncertainty in the story thus far. First of all, I am not sure at this stage we have enough data to state whether or not mining is starting to normalise or if the sector is still in its ‘wait and see’ mode. I suspect that it’s still in a ‘wait and see’ phase, especially with a federal election called for the 14th September 2013. Secondly, I know that the mining industry is no fan of the current Labor government and would be hoping for a conservative win but not sure how that will impact on the workforce planning issues and the data.
I guess we will all have to all ‘wait and see’…
Based on the additional nine stories I wouldn’t have changed my view. However, after completing the 2012 analysis in more detail I have now found a compelling trend commencing in September which shows that the mining industry has returned to a business as usual range and has been in that mode from approximately November.
First of all, let’s look at the incidence of stories since Jan 2012.
Figure 3: Australian Mining Workforce Planning Scan (Jan 2012 – Jan 2013). Data sourced from Australian Mining & News Archive. Some stories have been verified against primary resources.
Then a look at the Positive/Negative Index during the same period.
Figure 4: Australian Mining Workforce Planning Positive/Negative Index (Jan 2012 – Jan 2013). Data sourced from Australian Mining & News Archive.
A lot has been made of the commodity crash that occurred in mid-2012 and its impacts on the mining sector (with my view remaining the same, in that most commodities remain overpriced and that oversupply will be the medium to longer term issue). Looking at the graphs over a 13-month period you can easily see that prior to the commodity crash Employment averaged a steady 14.7% and a very healthy 3.8 on the positive side. When commodity prices crashed from June/July the mining sector reacted in two ways. Some operators panicked, reacting by cutting costs and staff quickly, a fact highlighted by the negative 20 number for Employment in September. Other organisations have used the crisis over the past seven months to ‘clean house’, fixing up issues with both their book and labour. This is reflected in the Employment numbers continuing on a slightly negative trend, averaging minus 2.67 over the last three months from lows in September and October while the actual employment losses are still relatively minor (see the Employment Tracker in the previous January release).
I’ll no doubt have more to say about this in the February release as more data comes in but I can say with some confidence that the leaner (and meaner) mining industry has returned to business as usual and the ‘wait and see’ is on hold.