By Saul Contera

As the 2015/16 financial year comes to a close one can’t help but sit back and reflect on the year that has been.  With conditions in the mining industry changing this year is has proved a difficult environment from both a market and commercial perspective for many of our mining clients. The reality is that the demand for commodities is weaker than what we want it to be for several reasons; including China’s slow down on investment and the US dollar. It has been made clear to me that companies have been forced to take a new approach and re think on business strategies and ideas from the top, and moving forward to not only survive but try and push through strongly and stay ahead in this market.

With uncertainty also comes opportunity! Companies with positive cash flow and forward thinking are in prime position to take advantage of market conditions, with several of our clients having acquired loss making assets and turning them into their own.  All in all with the reality of today’s market, continued operational improvements, consolidation and the right planning and acquisitions this will have significant benefits in the longer term.

From recruitment perspective within the fixed plant and infrastructure maintenance sectors I’ve noticed companies are taking this as an opportunity to use contract personnel where minimal spend & commitment is required instead of recruiting fulltime staff, this way ensuring they can be more ruthless and take on board only the right people and reduce risk. This is a great approach when looking at ensuring productivity, but minimizing exposure through full time employment contracts up front. I have reacted directly to this by prompting candidates to be open to looking at long term contract options with the view to proving themselves and earning the right to be employed full time.

Contractor pay rates have also taken a hit in 2016 particularly and I would say on average dependant on the role candidates are going at 5% – 12% cheaper than what they did in the previous financial year. This in turn has a flow on effect to clients which is positive as the charge out rates have also been reduced across the board. From an external perspective I would say now is the perfect time to look at what you get for what you spend and ensure you are getting value for your money by using a recruitment professional who is thorough in what they do and will work for the client and the candidate and not just for themselves in order to make a quick dollar.

On a personal level I have taken the opportunity whilst in a quieter market to ensure those clients who I deal with regularly but do not often get to see for logistical reasons are being serviced personally. A prime example of this was my recent site visit to the AngloGold – Tropicana Project where I have many good and longstanding relationships. I accepted an invitation to go to site recently, ensuring our OHS compliance standards are maintained and also just to spend some time with the people who make it happen and who also make us happen. I covered the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Crushing sectors, the Mill and CIL tanks and got to feel the final product before chemical phase. I took a tour of all three pits, the bore fields and tailing dams finishing with the camp, mess areas and infrastructure offices. This helps me immensely as a recruiter when sourcing the right people and continues to increase my knowledge within my specialised areas of recruitment.

I would like to take the time to thank all those involved at AngloGold for being so open and accommodating. Finally I would like to wish you all the best for the start of the new financial year.