The Success of Fly-In Fly-Out Australian Mining Operations


Australia's mineral resources boom in the two decades up to 1980 saw the establishment of about 25 new mining towns across the continent. Quality housing and a high standard of community services were incorporated to attract a labour force for the major mine or mines being serviced. Town construction costs were high and were principally born by the private enterprise mine developer. There has been a change in the pattern in recent years and over 20 new mine developers have adopted a fly-in fly-out arrangement rather than construct new towns. Employees are drawn from a home base which is typically a large city, coastal community or established mining town and flown to the mine site for intensive work periods of about two weeks. The change has occurred for many reasons. Mining companies have been unwilling to support the high construction costs of towns, short life and smaller mining operations do not justify a town, fast jet aircraft are available and there is a better perceived family lifestyle in established (coastal) communities. On the other hand reduced permanent development at new mine sites does not assist Australia's perceived need for decentralization. There have been questions as to the social problems which may develop for the artificial separation of the “breadwinner” from his family. The paper reviews a recent survey of the attitude of Australian mining companies employees, governments and unions to fly-in fly-out arrangements. The support for this approach is analysed and conclusions drawn that the concept is likely to be with the Australian mining industry for some time in the future.


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Australia; Fly-In Fly-Out; Mining

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 1991 Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Apr 1991

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