Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

CostMine’s newly published 2012 Survey Results of Canadian Mine Salaries, Wages and Benefits is now available. It is expensive; most individuals probably cannot afford it; you will have to get your union or human resources staff to order it if you want to see all the data. Thanks to the folk at CostMine, I can give some numbers that interest me and that may interest you.

Fifty-six mines across Canada provided data on wages paid in 2011. Thirty-four are union mines; and twenty-two non-union. Forty-five reported increased wages of an average of three percent with a spread from one percent to ten percent. Eleven had no change of wages. None decreased wages. Most mines reported paying cash bonuses for good safety performance.

Here are some average hourly wages by category in Canadian dollars at surface mines.

  • Electrician = 34.10
  • Mechanic = 33.80
  • Drill Operator = 32.34
  • Production Tuck Driver = 30.40
  • Labourer = 25.45

Electricians at underground mines average more, namely $36.43 an hour. Miners at underground mines got $31.02 an hour. And underground labourers got $24.84 an hour with a range varying from $18.25 to $34.87 an hour.

On the topic of highest wages, I note some lucky surface mine electricians got $54.31 an hour, some underground mine electrician got $44.40 an hour. and some lucky mill equipment operator got $54.31 and hour. So there are some miners in Canada getting over $100,000 a year, thereby putting them in the upper class of wage earners. They deserve it, for they have the skill.

As I read the data, wages at non-union mines in some categories are higher than at union mines. Compare these numbers for some job categories—union wage first/non-union wage second:

  • Mechanic = 33.17/35.27
  • Production Truck Driver = 28.22/39.16
  • Heavy equipment Operator = 31.01/34.14.

But in some job categories the non-union folk get less. An underground laborer at a union mine averages $25.14 compared to their counterpart at a non-union mine who gets $24.59.

As you would expect, those wage earners at fossil fuel mines distort the averages and certainly the maximum wages. Here are some averages for metal/diamond/fossil fuel mines:

  • Mechanic = 34.55/30.80/38.68
  • Dragline Operator = 33.34/37.33/36.23
  • Heavy Equipment Operator = 30.50/28.11/34.78
  • Surface Labourer = 24.57/22.60/29.96.

Go to the oil sands is all I can conclude. For wages at Eastern Mines are considerable lower than at Western Mines–by $2 to $10 depending on the job category. No wonder Mulcair is fuming.