Significant opportunities for facility management in remote mining camps

by FM Media
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Frost & Sullivan’s recently completed report Australian Market for Facilities Management at Remote Sites provides an overview of facility management in remote sites across the Australian mining industry, as well as relevant trends and developments impacting the opportunity for service providers in this market. Frost & Sullivan consultant, NELLY APPELHANZ shares some of the insights the report uncovered.

The mining industry in Australia is a significant contributor to the national economy. Over 40 percent of the total number of operating mines is located in remote areas in Western Australia and 25 percent in Queensland.
Mining industry growth drives the demand for increased workforce at remote sites, which, in turn, impacts the demand for facility management services that are required to operate and maintain mining camps and mining villages.
In 2011, more than 142,000 people were employed by the Australian mining industry. The majority work in remote areas using fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) services to reach their work locations, where they are generally accommodated in remote camps near the mine sites.

The Department for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations in Australia estimates that in the next five years nearly 70,000 new jobs will be created directly in the mining industry. Opportunities for facility management service providers will, therefore, grow. This is because of the fact that by 2018 it is estimated that 90 percent of facility management services in mining camps will be outsourced. Considering this level of growth, a major challenge for the facility management industry will be to attract and retain qualified labour in remote areas to provide services.

In addition, it is not enough anymore to just accommodate the FIFO workforce near mine sites. Employees who commit to be located at remote sites for a certain work placement expect many amenities. Often, beyond basic facility management services, a holistic concept to create a balanced work and life environment is expected.
Facilities management service providers are now forced to think ‘outside the box’ to not only provide services to maintain the camp site as efficiently as possible, but to also focus on the well-being of camp residents. The provision of services and facilities for recreation, fitness and entertainment; even nutritionists, fitness and health coaches, is likely to become the norm in remote locations.

One major restraint to the growth of facility management services relates to mining company policies. Corporate policies to employ on a local basis and use local available services and business to support the growth of remote communities are a part of strategy adopted by most major mining companies. The growth of local communities is usually supported by building residential housing and other facilities to retain locals in these communities. As a result, mining companies may keep the number of FIFO employees low in these instances and, hence, mining camps as small as possible.

For the facilities management industry itself, a major challenge arises out of the remoteness of many mining camp sites. For instance, supplying fresh food calls for considerable logistics and planning to ensure compliance with customer standards and to ensure the health and safety of mine site employees.
Not every facility management service provider is able to do this across the whole suite of services. Therefore, only those service providers that are able to overcome logistics challenges, retain quality personnel and provide value-added services will be able to take advantage of the long-term opportunity that presents itself.

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