NZ Geomechanics News

Letter to the Editor

Finding Good Drillers in New Zealand

Over the past month I have been talking to quite a few members of the NZDF and what I am hearing is that most sectors of the industry seem to be very busy with no signs of slowing.

There is a boom at the moment in the building, construction and infrastructure sector in New Zealand, and this is driving the Geotechnical market including stabilisation work throughout the country. There are some large projects on around the country that have combined with the very wet weather over the past month to increase further works for stabilisation companies. This sector is looking very healthy and keeping everyone busy. The Water sector is not in the boom time of the high milk prices, but is very steady and most companies that I have talked to seem busy.

The minerals sector has starting to see some movement after a very slow period and there seems to be a bit more movement over the ditch in this area too. The quarry sector has been pretty constant, but this is hard to assess as there are many quarries in New Zealand, so it depends on the infrastructure projects that are close to the quarry and it comes down to supply and demand in these areas. But with all the feedback I am getting, it is a very busy time for most.

Staffing concern

One thing we all have to think about when things are very busy is staffing and resourcing up to help with demand. The pool of good qualified drillers is pretty low in New Zealand especially when things are busy. Most members I talk to say there is a big struggle to find good drillers. There are a few mineral and RC drillers coming back from Australia and this has been happening for some time, but the diverse nature of construction drilling projects, mainly in the Geotech and stabilisation works, can be hard to cross over.

Mineral and RC experience is obviously a lot different to Geotechnical and ground anchor drilling.

The expectation from Drillers is found to be a hard reality when they come back and they can be disillusioned when they first return to the drilling industry from Australia to New Zealand. This is mainly due to the high wages in the Australian mining Industry compared to a New Zealand Construction wage. The wages in New Zealand are increasing but are far from what they are used to, so this brings other challenges for our member companies.

So to offset this we, as employers have to look at other factors such as lifestyle opportunities to keep the staff and to give them more stable work environments. And only then can we try and keep good drillers here in New Zealand.

Mel Griffiths, NZ Drillers Federation CHair
Tel: 04 527 7346
Mob: 021 433 137

NZ Geomechanics News
Mel Griffiths
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 94 – December 2017

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