I recently got the 2007 Survey Results of the Canadian Mine Salaries, Wages & Benefits. For the first time this year, the survey includes information about compensation paid to mining company executives. As other people’s high salaries are always of interest, here are some that I cull from the report.

The average salary (ten companies reporting) for the chairman of a major mining company was $1.1 million. In addition, this same average chairman received a bonus of $805K, was granted securities options worth $750K, shares worth $1.2 million, and “other compensation” worth $588K. Not a bad deal. Almost make you feel sorry for the average chairman of a junior mining company (nine reporting) who got a mere $219K salary, $88K bonus, securities option of $24K, and other compensation of only $98K. But then maybe chairmen of junior mining companies leave all the work to the CEO, for I see the average CEO of a junior mining company got a salary of $297K, and a reasonable bonus of $387K.

Clearly it is better to be an executive in a major mining company. Consider these salaries: CEO = $1M; President = $866K; Vice-President = $378K; CFO = $431K; and COO = $418K. You have to admire the patience of the average Vice-President sitting around earning less than the other executives. If it is like the US White House, I presume there are power perks. Or maybe they do get their compensation by other means–I see the maximum “other compensation” paid to vice-presidents was $2.7M, whereas the president got a paltry $63K. There must be an interesting story behind this statistic?

A similar strange ratio occurs for presidents and vice-presidents of junior mining companies: the average “other compensation” for presidents was only $90K, whereas vice-presidents got a whopping $213K. The salary ratio is a different story: presidents got a salary of $297K and vice-presidents a salary of $207K. One possibility is that, in practice, vice-presidents do the work compared to figure-head presidents, thus finally getting their reward via “other compensation.” Although the salaries and other compensation for “figure-heads” is not bad, all things considered.

What happens in mid-tier mining companies? Theses are some (nine companies reporting) maximum/minimum salaries: chairman = $539/179K; CEO = $700/339K; president = $700/200K; vice-president =$475/87K; CFO = $425/125K. Quiet a range when you think of it. Do not forget these seemingly poorly paid folk also get bonuses, security options, shares and “other compensation.” I see the average mid-tier mining company president got a bonus of $519K, and some luck president got the maximum bonus of $2.4M.

Now to salaries for technical, managerial, and administrative people. These data come from 42 mines (19 underground and 23 open pit) in Canada. Some overall county averages: General Manager = $168K; Mine Manager = $133K; Chief Engineer = $$98K; Mine Geologist = $74K; Personnel Manager = $99K; Secretary = $44K. Interesting to see how much the Personnel Manager earns.

The upper ranges are impressive: In the western region of Canada, the top grossing general manager got $265K; the top grossing senior engineer got $141K; and the top grossing personnel manager got $136K.

There is no clear trend as to whether people working on surface mines earn more or less than people in underground mines. The average Mine Manager at a surface mine earns $141K as compared to the average underground mine manager who earns a mere $122K. By comparison the surface mine secretary earns $42K as compared to the counterpart at an underground mine who earns $46K. The average surface mine chemist earns $71K as compared to the average underground mine chemist who earns $64K.

Some of these discrepancies may be explained by the differences in average salaries at metal mines as compared to industrial mineral mines as compared to fossil fuel mines. Again not all salaried folk at fossil fuel mines earn more than their counterparts on metal mines or industrial mineral and aggregate mines, but most do. For example, the general manager of an average fossil fuel mine earns $203K as compared to the general manager of an average metal mine who earns but $180K. The fossil fuel mine environmental coordinator earns $93K as compared to the metal mine environmental coordinator at $83K. Secretaries do better on metal mines at $48K compared to fossil fuel mines at $43K. And they say there is a staff shortage in Alberta?

Keep in mind that in addition to salary, these folk get bonuses. The general manager of surface mines employing more than five hundred people got a bonus equal to 35 percent of their salary. Sadly the poor old mine engineer, mine geologist, chemist, and accountant got a bonus equal to only five percent of their salary. These same folk on underground metal mines got bonuses of nine percent of their salary. Roll on managerial Christmas.

Finally to wages: I am told that the average wage earner on a Canadian mine can double their take home wages via incentive programs and bonuses, so the following are the bare minimum—and actual household spending power may be based on twice the number I quote below.

For Canadian surface mines, here are some averages in $ per hour: Electrician = 30; mechanic = 27; Heavy Equipment Operator = 25; Drill Operator = 26; Laborer = 19. Underground mine electrician earn less (27 vs. 30), whereas laborers earn more (21 vs. 19.)

It pays to work in the fossil fuel mines. The electrician and the mechanic earn $34 per hour, the surface laborer $24 per hour. Ah well, you still have to deal with Fort McMurray.

The one good point of all this is that with the Canadian dollar rising all the time, Canadian mine workers are, on average, earning more than their United States counterparts.