AusIMM's 2018 Professional Workforce Survey was completed by around 1500 respondents of the 13,000 members, and compared to the 2016 poll when 14.1% of professionals were out of work, unemployment is now down to just 2.6%.
The report found despite increased demand for staff over the past few years there was little growth in salaries, which reflects an entrenched lack of wage growth in the wider Australian economy.
The study showed that geotechnical engineers ‘got back to work' in 2016, with geoscience members doing so slightly later, and mining engineers really getting back to low unemployment rates this year.
Metallurgists, materials and chemical engineers have only more recently reached "essentially full employment", which likely reflects the fact their roles are process-focused as opposed to focused on mine establishment, the study found.
The professional body said optimism shined through the results with almost three quarters of respondents signalling that they felt the sector was offering increased opportunities in 2018 compared to a mere 17% in 2015.
Unemployment remains highest in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Victoria.
AusIMM CEO Stephen Durkin said that it was also encouraging to see optimism among student respondents, with 68% expressing confidence in industry growth and employment in 2018 - a figure that has doubled over the past three years.
"Increasing student confidence in the sector will encourage more young people to enter STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] related courses with the assurance of a long, stable career in a strong industry. This is significant given the importance of attracting and retaining a skilled workforce to a changing industry," Durkin said.
He said the resources recovery was translating into greater employment, greater prospects, and the opportunity for sustainable growth into the future, but he complained the public sphere often focused on the "politics of mining" and not the employment of 65,000 resources professionals in Australia and the 1.1 million full time jobs reliant on the success of the sector.
Innovation, automation and technological development were of increasing importance to respondents in the survey, reflecting the professional interest in the fast change the sector is undergoing.
"The sector is changing, and we need to ensure that the skills of the future workforce are cultivated, to fully embrace innovation and automation and all the opportunities it offers for growth in the sector," Durkin said.
The survey also peeked into the "diversity question" and found workplaces were likely meeting or exceeding expectations in terms of race, ethnicity, heritage, gender, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation, however respondents indicated more work needed to be done to improve the perception of the resources industry more broadly, with over half of female participants expressing the view that the industry was not diverse, compared to 32% of male participants.
Durkin said that industry needed to be "on the front foot with promoting diversity and inclusion" if it wanted to achieve real growth.