6th May 2016

Gregsons recently caught up with James Purtill from Triple J’s HACK Program to provide some comments for there story “what happens to young tradies after the mining boom“.. James travelled to our Welshpool auction facility to chat about the type of equipment we are selling through our auctions and where this equipment is coming from. An extract from the article is below as well as the link to the story – enjoy!


“To find the wealth of Western Australia’s mining boom, you can go to a nondescript gravel yard on the industrial fringe of Perth, where six million dollars worth of trucks and loaders, of cranes and utes and portable buildings is to be sold at auction.

It’s a buyer’s market, says Jack Gregson, director of Gregsons Auctioneers – one of about seven auction houses in Perth dealing in mining and civil equipment.

Here the equipment amassed over a decade of anomalously high commodities prices is going under the hammer in million-dollar fortnightly liquidation fire sales.

The sight of cranes and utes and portable donga accommodation branded with corporate logos is rare visual proof of the massive scale of the bust – a collapse that that has largely been played out far from the cities and towns, and far from public view, on remote FIFO mines.

In 2011 iron prices began a jagged fall from a high of US$180 a tonne. Other commodities followed. This marked the beginning of the end of the boom.

The iron ore price is now a bit over $50 – and this is still higher than the historical average price before the boom. It could fall further.

From 2012 to 2015 the mining industry in Western Australia shed almost a quarter of its workforce – about 20,000 people.

Meanwhile, state debt has spiraled to $39 billion and Western Australia has the highest level of average household debt of any state – $189,000 according to a recent estimate.

“It wasn’t quick cut,” says Jack.

“It wasn’t as if on Monday we had hundreds of phone calls to sell equipment. It happened over a year or so. It was very slow.

“It might have been equipment hire companies that were first to experience the struggle – there was no construction, so no hire equipment, and then it slowly rolled through to the transport industry – when nothing is happening people don’t need transport equipment.

“It flows down from your top people, your major mining conglomerates. The construction projects come to an end and suddenly they don’t need the smaller people.”

Two years ago, there was a run of news stories about young miners urgently selling jet skis and high-powered utes to service their mortgages.

But far more significant, says Jack, are the rows of cranes up for auction.

“When you see a crane up for sale you’re definitely seeing say 30 employees out of work,” he says.

“A business can be 10 or 50 people and then when you extrapolate that to family you could be talking about 100 or 200 people affected.”

The boom is well and truly over, but the impact of this is staggered – Jack expects the liquidation sales to continue for at least another two years.

In other words, the real scale of what happened is only emerging now.”



James Purtill – Triple J Hack Program