The start of Roundup prompts us to look at exploration salaries world-wide.  Luckily there is the CostMine survey Exploration Salaries, Wages & Benefits to help us do this. 

The survey reports on information from 162 exploration offices from 38 countries.  Information comes from 113 medium to large mining companies and 49 junior mining companies.  Salaries are reported for 104 exploration managers, 116 senior geologists, 136 project geologists, and 28 entry level geologists.  Also there is information from 50 independent consultant on what they charge to do exploration.

The good news is that the highest paid professionals were American, Canadian, and Australian nationals working either on foreign assignments or in their home countries.  The bad news is that the lowest paid were nationals living in Columbia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, and Papua New Guinea.  Colombian geologist made as little as $15,000 per year in U.S. dollar equivalents. 

Here are some average salaries for 2008—the first number is for the international average; the number in brackets is for the U.S., Canada, and Australia only:

  1. Exploration Manager = $133,700 ($132,700)
  2. Senior Geologist = $92,800 ($94,600)
  3. Project Geologist = $67,200 (67,200)
  4. Junior Geologist = $49,500 ($49,500)
  5. Geophysicist = $92,100 ($79,900)
  6. Landsman = $67,000 ($68,900)
  7. Field Technician = $32,100 ($45,000)
  8. Secretary = $29,500  ($38,000)

Seems it is better to be a secretary in the US than elsewhere!  The real difference is at the top.  In the U.S., the top Exploration manager made $215,000, the top Senior Geologist $158,000,  the top Junior Geologist $52,000, and the top Secretary $45,000. 

Expatriates always did better than the Nationals.  For example, the average Expat junior geologist made $80,000 compared to the National who made $49,500. 

Turning to consultants, we find that in the US the average daily consulting rate for an Exploration Consultant is $734, in Australia $510, and in Canada a mere $480.  The top Canadian consultants were charging as much as $800 a day.  The top American consulting geologist was getting $1,500 a day.

Once again we have no idea if these salaries will hold up through 2009.  As the survey notes:

For most of 2007 and 2008 exploration professionals were in short supply.  As a result, exploration wages increased.  For example, in 2006, U.S. senior geologists working in the U.S. were paid on average US$88,400 per year.  In 2007 this  increased to US$95,800.  The numbers for Australia are A$100,000 increasing to A$112,700.