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News release

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis
Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy

Thursday, 10 September, 2015

The State Government and the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy are again joining forces to help geoscience graduates find jobs in the resources sector.

Minerals Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the Geoscientist Assistance Program will receive $425,000 over two years to maintain, develop and diversify the skills base of geoscience graduates and professionals affected by the downturn in employment in the resources sector.

“This collaboration with SACOME, local universities and the sector is to help prevent the loss of skilled and highly trained individuals from the South Australian exploration and mining industry workforce,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“We’ve found that the two critical points in the commodities cycle for the industry’s skilled workforce is during the upswing when there is substantial competition for geoscientists across the country and during downturns when exploration budgets are squeezed and geoscientists with them.

“The new GAP round is a critical step in ensuring company exploration programs and recruitment are not inhibited by a lack of opportunity.

“This is the second time we have run GAP. Between July 2009 and December 2012, 33 graduates and professionals were placed in a variety of geoscientific roles, with almost all being retained by the company after their GAP tenure has ceased.

“Run under the government’s Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) initiative, the reinstatement of the program has met with overwhelming support and generated significant interest from companies wanting to submit project proposals and employ exploration staff.”

The program works by providing direct salary subsidies for the employment of GAP participants; negotiating appropriate work programs and plans in partnership with the industry partner; and actively engages tertiary institutions by promoting GAP and providing advice for all geoscience graduates who want to enter the industry.

Mr Koutsantonis said the first six months of the new GAP has placed nine graduate and experienced geoscientists with eight companies.

“A total of $170,000 in GAP subsidies have leveraged an estimated $480,000 in company salaries,” he said.

“The South Australian mining industry employs nearly 11,000 people and it’s important to work with the sector and the universities to counter global market pressures.”