Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

I have just received the CostMine 2014 Survey Results for U.S. Metal and Industrial Mineral Mine Salaries, Wages, and Benefits. I will provide some data from the survey and comment on trends that intrigue me. First a look at the impact on wages of working for a small mine as compared to working for a large mine. The Survey notes on this topic:

Some distinct differences in employment practices are apparent between small and large mines. To demonstrate the differences, we divided the mines between those with fewer than 100 employees (51 mines) and those with 100 employees or more (67 mines). For the most part, miners at small mines make less than their counterparts at large mines. Medical benefits were offered at 48 of the small mines and 66 of the large mines. Many of the mines helped offset the high cost of medical and dental coverage by requiring an employee premium to participate. While most of the mines in the survey offer their employees a medical plan, employees at large mines are generally more likely to benefit from incentive bonus plans and retirement plans, plus more vacation and holiday time-off.

Numerically here are some wages for small surface mines versus large mines (the first is the average hourly rate in dollars for small surface mines; the second is the average for large surface mines).

  • Electrician = 26.98/29.28
  • Mechanic = 25.61/27.50
  • Driller = 19.31/26.18
  • Laborer = 17.67/19.62

A significant difference in the case of drillers. So to the ranges which for small surface mines goes from 14.31 to 24.75, compared to large surface mines which goes from 21.32 to 33.80. In short the average Driller at a small surface mines gets less than the lowest paid Driller at a large surface mine.

For underground mines, the average for smaller mines is often higher than the average for larger mines. Examples:

  • Mechanic = 29.68/28.02
  • Miner = 29.78/28.12

Not so for Underground Laborers at underground mines where the range and average for small mines is from 15.00 to 17.55 with an average of 17.55 as compared to the Underground Laborer at a large underground mine where the range is from 15.84 to 34.22 for an average of 22.54. A large difference. I have no explanation, but there must be one, so let us hear from you if you know why.