From Los Angeles came an e-mail from a recruiter asking me if I knew anyone who would be interested in a job at the Albian Sands in Ft. McMurray as a Mining, Geotechnical, Process (Extraction), Reclamation Engineers, and/or a Construction Manager (Dykes).
I do not, nor am I personally interested, but the request set me thinking about the income a suitable candidate might expect. From the 2008 Canadian Mine Salary, Wages & Benefits Survey from CostMine here are some annual lowest, average, and highest salaries for western Canadian mines:
Mine Manager = $92,000, $131,400, $165,000
Mine Superintendant = $80,600, $114,200, $135,800
Chief/Senior Engineer = $70,000, $104, 500, $146,600
Mine Engineer = $60,00, $80,400, $91,000
Metallurgist = $66,000, $83,400, $121,000
These numbers include ten fossil fuel mines. I am not sure that a fossil fuel mine is an oils sands operation only or includes coal mines.
Wages for individual mines are provided in an Appendix to the Survey. I found one fossil fuel mine producing more than five million tons a year. Here are the annual salaries for some engineering staff:
Engineering Manager = $175,000
Chief Engineer = $132,151
Senior Engineer = $120,190
Engineer = $99,320.
Thus our recruiter may be seeking people potentially earning say $100,000 to $175,000 a year. It hardly seems worth while to get a recruiter from Los Angles to seek out people earning less than six figures?
The question then is could you live comfortably in Fort McMurray on about $125,000 a year? Houses are terribly expensive, food is not cheap, and the cost of getting there and back is outrageous and getting worse as the airlines shrink and fuel prices soar. I suppose as a single fellow you could, but as a family man?
I recognize it is all relative. I see what my older daughter and her husband, both MS geotechnical engineers earn and spend on a two-kid family in southern California. Must be a comparable cost situation in Fort McMurray? OK, so if you have a spouse who can earn as much as you, you can make it comfortably in Fort McMurray.
I also see what the husband of my younger daughter with six kids earns in Iowa and what they spend. They could live like kings in Fort McMurray on any one of those salaries.
Mind you a two-year contract for a guaranteed $200,000 per year might interest me. I will think about it over the weekend.