Has the FIFO Worker Become Soft?

(11 votes)

In a bid to cater to the ever increasing list of needs required to retain FIFO workers, a new accommodation village located just outside of Darwin is set to feature a cinema, world class tavern and an internet café.

The impressive features of the Howard Springs accommodation village smack of a bid to keep FIFO workers happy. The accommodation village is getting ready to house about 3,500 FIFO workers for the Inpex gas processing plant at Blaydin Point, Darwin. And it looks as if they aim to keep them from jumping ship.

The Pool at Howard Springs FIFO Village

According to a representative from Inpex, when complete the 67 hectare village will include: a 50-seat cinema, 25m swimming pool, outdoor beach volleyball court, cardio and spin room, gym, music room, basketball and tennis courts, cricket nets, internet café, shop and much, much more.

Accomodation at Howard Springs FIFO Village

It is little wonder why so much focus has been given to building an accommodation village for FIFO workers replete with facilities more commonly found in a holiday resort or a health retreat.

Recent studies have shown that happy and healthy FIFO workers were significantly more productive than unhealthy, unhappy ones. It is no secret that FIFO employee turnover rates are quite high in comparison to other occupations. On average, about one in three FIFO workers walk off the job each year.

According to Inpex, the village at Howard Springs is designed to provide a safe, comfortable and relaxed second home for FIFO workers.

But is this really what Aussie FIFO workers want?

Recent news stories in the Sydney Morning Herald and Perth’s WA Today document the hard-working, hard-drinking, hard-fighting mentality of some FIFO workers. Indeed, some mining camp operators in the past have taken to conveying FIFO workers off-site to drink themselves stupid. Once their drinking shift ends these Fully Intoxicated Fighting Outfits are bussed back to camp to sleep it off in their dongas, just so they can wake up and do it all again the next day.

A study by the Queensland University of Technology found that the impact of flying in thousands of miners to work at various mines across Queensland and Western Australia resulted in many small towns becoming rife with crime and violence.

From these kinds of reports, it’s obvious that Aussie FIFO workers haven’t gone soft. But the new style of accommodation being built to meet the needs of Aussie FIFO workers has maybe overlooked features in its design that FIFO workers really need.

FIFO camps in Australia, as represented by the Howard Springs accommodation village, have certainly come a long way from the days of the humble donga. However, compared to mining camps in South America, the average donga the Aussie FIFO miner resides in today whilst on site is literally palatial.

Mining camps in the southern districts of Peru are notoriously filthy and unsafe.

In the gold-mining town of Huepetuhe, once a mining camp that grew into a small community, electricity supply is limited, sewerage systems and waste removal are virtually non-existent and numerous health and safety hazards abound.


Huepetuhe’s miners typically handle mercury with their bare hands and inhale its poisonous fumes as they heat the dangerous chemical element in order to recover the gold they will later sell to gold shops in town.

Recently a team of researchers working for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered alarming levels of mercury pollution in these “informal” mining camps as well as towns nearby.


Being exposed to mercury can cause a number of health conditions. The EPA advises that mercury poisoning can lead to, amongst other ailments, “mental disturbances”.

No matter what type of accommodation Aussie FIFO workers find themselves living in whilst on site, they are a darn site better than those many South American miners live in as they carry out their difficult and dangerous jobs.

And if a Peruvian miner stumbled into the Howard Springs accommodation village in Darwin, surely they would think the mercury fumes had finally made them mad and it was all a dream.


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Minetalk Poll

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

Is the mining boom in Australia over?

No, it's just media hype.
Yes as a result of lower demand.
Still plenty of resources.
There will be a second boom.
1 Votes left

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