FIFO Mining Jobs
Are they worth the digging?
FIFO or “Fly In Fly Out” is a kind of job where your company flies you to the mine site where you stay in local shared accommodation and work for the period of your roster. Then your company flies you home to spend your time off with your family.
FIFO jobs are an alternative and a lifestyle choice as most mining jobs are in very remote areas where you may not be interested in raising a family. Depending on the company, rosters can range between 2 or 3 weeks on, 1 week off or up to 9 days on, 6 days off. Working days are usually longer, being organized around 12 hours shifts.
“Drive In Drive Out” (DIDO) are also available, which means you drive yourself to work at the start of the roster and drive back home for your time off. This applies only to mines located at a reasonable driving distance from a major city.
FIFO and DIDO jobs have been very popular in Latin America for decades, and in Western Australia, this kind of job now constitutes a significant part of the mining jobs offered.
Being in a FIFO position, you can expect to share accommodations. Your room, usually basic but comfortable, will be yours only during your roster. It will be occupied by one of your colleagues when you are off.
Communal installations will allow you to relax after your day: television room, gymnasium, sports facility, snooker, internet connection, sometimes a swimming pool or a movie theater. Companies are now massively investing to grant their employees top of the range accommodations. Food and sometimes laundry is included. A small shop usually allows you to buy some extras.
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in most of the mining camps which could be a little frustrating if you get used to having a nice fresh beer after your day.
The security of the mining camp is organized by the company. This is a key asset especially in moderate to high security and/or political risk countries.
Is It Worth the Money?
An extra 30 to 50 percent can be expected on your salary, sometimes more. So if you don’t have a family, just go for it. This is usually a great deal. If you have a family, be aware that the extra money will never replace all you might lose.
FIFO positions correspond to a specific lifestyle that is sometimes difficult to combine with a relationship and a family.
Where the Jobs Are
For a more geographically focused search, look in Africa and Western Australia, specifically Pilbara.
Companies’ websites are also a great source of information and opportunities. Just add “FIFO” to the search criteria. Typical examples of recruiting companies with FIFO contracts are Xstrata, Rio Tinto, and BHP-Billiton, amongst many others.