Mining companies reportedly offer major incentives for foreign employees from regions like Africa to relocate to take up positions in overseas mines. It is not lost on employers or employees that this often involves workers uprooting their families to move overseas for the duration of their contract – either that or leaving their families for long periods of time to work in another country. The main drawback of the mining industry is this fact, also dubbed ‘relocation culture’, and its severe implications for work-life balance. It is one of the reasons why foreign employees are offered so many benefits and highly paid salaries.

Another reason for these incentives is that many countries, especially now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, have a shortage of labour resources with critical skills. Therefore, relocating is even more of a likelihood for many skilled and qualified mining professionals these days. Australia in particular is becoming a destination of choice for those with mining skills, as the country is experiencing a dire skills gap in the mining industry since its border shutdowns last year.

In fact, a few months ago mining conglomerate Rio Tinto announced that it was offering Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) employees $30,000 to relocate to Western Australia to fill roles.

It is well known that moving house, even if it’s in the same town, is rated as one of the most stressful life experiences, up there with divorce and losing a loved one. Moving to another country comes with many challenges and affects both you and your family – and is even more difficult if you have children. If you have been offered a job overseas that’s too good to refuse, however, it may be a good decision – for your career and even your family.

Here are a few tips to make relocating for your mining job less stressful.

1. Learn all you need to know about the country or region you are relocating to before you move.

Moving to an unfamiliar place is difficult enough; make it a little easier by finding out what you can about it so you know what you can expect and get you and your loved ones settled in as painlessly as possible.

Things you’ll need to find out about include:

  • The cost of living there, factoring in schools, rent, groceries, eating out, healthcare (if your company is not sponsoring that), and more
  • The cost of moving, from airfares to initial expenses to quarantine costs for pets or mandatory quarantining for COVID-19
  • All the permits, certificates, and tickets you may need to legally work there, as well as any that your partner may need
  • Potential job opportunities for your partner
  • Schooling options
  • Whether you can use your national driver’s license or need to obtain an international one
  • Healthcare facilities – this is especially important if you or a family member has a disability or chronic condition
  • The languages spoken – you may want to learn at least basic phrases if you do not speak the country’s national language
  • Social and cultural etiquette and norms specific to the new country.
  • It doesn’t hurt to find out about expat groups, social clubs, and activities you can join to meet people in your new country of residence before you get there.

2. Plan your move far in advance

Making the necessary arrangements for relocating is something best done well ahead of time.

One of the most dreaded aspects of moving home is probably packing and having to deal with the mass of stuff we’ve collected over the years. Make it less daunting by organising belongings one room at a time. Sort things into different groups: keep, sell, give away, or throw out.

When packing, box up the items you won’t need to use for the time being, such as most of your books or clothes you don’t wear as often, first. Pack items such as your everyday clothes last, just before your move.

In terms of logistics, make all moving and travel arrangements well in advance, as well as arrangements for your children’s schooling in the new location (if this applies). This includes working out the costs involved. For example, removal service fees, school uniform and schooling fees, plane ticket prices, and more. Give your children’s current schools notice of your move. If you or your partner currently have a job, hand in your notice in good time.

If you have pets, decide whether it’s best to take them with you or to give them a new home. If you are set on taking your pet with you, be sure to research pet import laws in the country you’re moving to, organise transportation timeously and find out pet quarantine costs. As well as this, speak to your vet for advice on preparing your pet for the move.

To help with this…

3. Write to-do lists

Keep checklists of the tasks you need to do before you move and tick them off as you go, from most to least urgent. This is an easy way to keep track of what you’ve done and make sure you don’t forget anything.

Finally, some extra tips if you have children…

  • Include them in the moving process – especially if they are younger children of primary school age. Let them have a say in which of their things they want to keep or let go of, what they want packed first and last, and so on.
  • Let them know about the move as soon as it is definite, know you will likely meet with some resistance and possible tantrums or moodiness, depending on their age. Moving to a new place and a new school away from their friends and a place of familiarity can feel overwhelming to children, be they very young or teenagers. Make sure you are prepared to help them deal with their feelings and adjust to the idea of living in a new place.
  • If possible, host a leaving party for them and their friends.
  • Show them photos of the home you will all be moving to.

Are you considering a new country as part of the next step in your mining career? Visit CA Mining’s Africa Jobs Portal to see the latest mid- to senior-level mining positions around the continent.

You can also try Jooble to find some more mining jobs around.