When truck drivers earn six figures

The commodities boom in Australia is producing strange results: commodities companies are desperately looking for new employees – and are now paying incredibly high salaries. And not just for managers.

Rising production costs are worrying Australian raw materials suppliers. Groups like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have to pay ever higher wages for their mine workers. An unskilled worker in Perth, Western Australia, now receives 120,000 Australian dollars in basic wages, the equivalent of a good 95,000 euros, per year. In addition, they receive 31.90 Australian dollars per day as a so-called travel allowance for the 20-minute commute in the company bus. The money is paid even on non-working days. With a number of other allowances, an annual salary of $150,000 is quickly added up.

Western Australia is richer in mineral resources than almost any other place on earth. But there is a shortage of people to extract these treasures from the ground. Thousands of additional employees are needed in the iron ore mines and loading facilities in the Pilbara region alone, where the raw materials giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are investing billions.

The world’s biggest raw materials companies

With sales of 110.3 billion euros, Glencore is already one of the world’s largest commodities groups. The merger with the second-largest Swiss commodities group Xstrata will give the new group a stock market value of around 80 billion dollars. This will create a new raw materials giant.

The multinational group is not only one of the world’s leading companies in the mining of coal, diamonds and copper – it is also the world market leader in aluminum production. Its stock market value is estimated at $93.7 billion.

The Brazilian raw materials giant controls 35 percent of the iron ore market, mainly with exports from its home country. Its stock market value is estimated at 105.9 billion euros. In addition to its raw materials business, the company is one of Brazil’s leading logistics groups.

The Australian-British commodities giant is a coveted takeover target for competitors. Rio Tinto and Chinalco were interested in a takeover, but the deal fell through. With a stock market value of 153.9 billion euros, BHP Billiton is now the most valuable raw materials group in the world.

The Chinese raw materials group is the world’s second-largest coal producer. Through acquisitions in the energy sector, the stock market value of Asia’s largest raw materials company has grown to $65.5 billion.

Gold, diamonds, platinum – the British-South African commodities group specializes primarily in precious raw materials. But coal, iron and other industrial metals are also part of the Group’s portfolio. Its stock market value is around 45 billion euros.

The unions, above all the powerful Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), are seizing the opportunity to get the best for their members. Their position is clear: in addition to shareholders, managers and the treasury, employees should also benefit from the historically high demand for minerals from the region. Thus, salaries of up to 200,000 dollars for truck hire sydney drivers in Western Australian mines are no longer uncommon.