By Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

The folk at CostMine have sent me their most recent publication, 2011 Survey Results; International Exploration Salaries, Wages and Benefits. Here are some of the many fascinating facts in this publication. You can purchase the full volume at the CostMine site.

To compile the report, the folk at CostMine sent out questionnaires to personnel managers and exploration managers at exploration and headquarter office. The data were collected between March 2011 and November 2011.

A total of 129 exploration offices from 18 countries responded to the survey. Of these, 100 represent medium to large companies, while 29 were junior companies. In addition 73 independent consultants provided responses.

Here are some reported annual salaries (in US dollars) by country for the Exploration Manager:

  • Asia = 168K
  • Africa = 173K
  • Australia = 231K
  • Europe = 212K
  • Canada = 163K
  • United States = 133K
  • Central America = 135K
  • South America = 158K

As to be expected the exploration managers in Australia are doing better than the rest. Followed by the exploration managers in Europe, although surely they are looking for mines in places other than Europe at those salaries. The United States exploration managers languish in the doldrums, possibly because of the US economy, the near absence of significant mining hopes in the US, and a failure to diversify outside the US.

Just to give a bigger picture of the US, here are the ranges for the Senior Geologist working for US exploration companies:

  • Minimum = 78K
  • Maximum = 173K
  • Average = 98K

But what of the people who do the work as compared to the managing of exploration? Here are some annual salaries (in US dollars again) for Project Geologists:

  • Asia = 127K
  • Africa = 39K
  • Australia = 125K
  • Europe = 73K
  • Canada = 81K
  • United States = 74K
  • Central America = 58K
  • South America = 67K

Interesting that here the Asian project geologist is in the lead, followed by the Australian, and somewhere down the scale the Canadian. Which makes me wonder what is going on in Asia. I cannot wait until the 26 to the 30 March 2012 to attend the 8th Annual Asia Mining Congress to find out. Although if you look at the brochure they sent me, it promises to be a black-tie affair. In how many mining gatherings will you see all the men wearing suits and ties? I suppose only where the attendance fee is nearly $4,000.

Here is the annual salary for expatriates working in exploration in Asia.

  • Exploration Manager = 201K
  • Senior Geologist = 198K
  • Project Geologist = 141K
  • Geophysicist = 175K
  • Landsman = 123K
  • Field Technician = 65K

There is a great deal more information in the full report. I recommend you obtain it if the topic affects you. Later I will write about the salaries of exploration consultants.