Mining companies are wooing potential and current remote site employees with a host of amenities that include satellite broadband and communications services.
The mining industry employs thousands of workers at remote sites. It is one of the biggest clients of NewSat, a satellite services company that provides high-speed broadband and communications to remote Goldfields mine sites through its resellers.
Perth-based NewSat sales manager Ashley Neale elaborated on the similarities between the closely-linked satellite and mining industries. “The satellite business is a lot like the mining industry," he said. "You need to get your ducks in a row and find enough people to invest in the infrastructure to sell the product." According to Mr. Neale, satellite services are "a high-demand product and the demand is only going up in these regions.”
In the past, mining companies used high salaries as the main driver to attract and retain staff. But accommodation, facilities, food, rosters, and especially entertainment and communications have now become major factors in ensuring the loyalty and productivity of employees.
The growing importance of staying in touch with the wider world and maintaining access to the Internet has prompted many resource companies to invest millions of dollars on modern comforts -including virtual five-star hotel entertainment and other satellite-based communications and Internet services- for its remote site employees. "There always has been a strong demand from the Goldfields,” Mr. Neale explained. “That’s why we’ve been going to Diggers and Dealers for probably eight or nine years."
According to Mr. Neale, the demand for satellite communications remained significant. "You might have thought the demand for satellite communications would go down," he noted before going on to admit that "That’s certainly what I thought four years ago when I joined the company." Mr. Neale related that the advent of wireless services and improved 3G on phones led to a prevalent opinion that demand for satellite services would decrease.
"But in fact it’s gone the other way around," he revealed. “I can tell you it’s because when people are without their phone they start going stir-crazy."
Mr. Neale described the current generation of workers -including mining site staff- to be "a different breed... Being in touch with the world and friends and families is much more important to them," he said.
Workers now evaluate mine sites based on the facilities available to them, with a premium placed on continued communications to the real world. "It’s a sellers market for the employees at the moment,” Mr. Neale said, as mining companies work to retain valuable workers by providing them with numerous amenities such as satellite broadband and communications.