Unrest and strikes in Indonesia, Chile, Australia and Africa, a shortage of skilled workers in North America and rising labour costs all over the globe are quickly becoming the most serious downsides of a mining boom that started almost a decade ago.
While a historically high overall jobless rate is masking spiking wages in the resources sector in the US, workers in emerging markets are shutting down operations of mining companies deemed not to be sharing record profits fairly.
The Globe and Mail reports on how mine workers are digging in on wages, pensions and benefits:
Mining companies are trying to hold their ground to prevent a further spike in costs, at the same time maintaining output levels to capitalize on near-record prices for gold, copper, silver and coal. Prolonged strike action could lead to production shortages that would in turn drive up prices for resources as it did with nickel last year following lengthy strikes by workers at Brazilian mining giant Vale SA’s Canadian operations.
The Huffington Post quotes a new report on the US job market by Fitch Ratings that warns labour inflation in certain sectors could result in reduced output and lower profits for employers:
The Fitch report cites mining as one sector where a modest labor force and heavy union activity could push wages higher. The report notes there were 23,000 mining and natural resource job openings in May. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, mining has added 115,000 jobs since October 2009, including 7,000 new jobs in May of this year.
MINING.com reported in June on the rise in wages and equipment costs facing Canada’s oil sands industry:
According to a new outlook from the Construction Owners Association of Alberta, the expected future labour need for 2011 is up significantly from this time last year. At the same time, the Construction Sector Council recently published a forecast that suggests that future trades industry labour supply will be limited.