A new survey indicates that unemployment levels in the mining exploration sector have surged in just the past year.
The survey by the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy of 3,000 of its members found that unemployment for professionals in the mining exploration sector, including engineers, geologists and environmental experts, at present sits just shy of 11 per cent.
This figure marks a sharp rise compared to just a year previously, when a similar survey found that the unemployment level in the sector was just 2 per cent.
Michael Catchpole, chief executive of the institute, said the surge in unemployment is the result of a broader malaise in the global resources sector.
"The reasons undoubtably go to global factors," Catchpole said to ABC News.
Catchpole pointed in particular to the slump in commodity prices which commenced towards the end of 2012, as well as the leadership transition in China - the primary export market for commodities such as iron ore and coal; and uncertainty surrounding the future pace of its economic momentum.
While engineering graduates have recently started to report that their immediate job prospects have fallen short of expectations as a result of the mining slump, Catchpole says that the problem of joblessness is impacting the full gamut of industry professionals.
"It's certainly true that some of our members are recent graduates but it's true right across our professional group at all stages and career," he said. "Exploration geologists, mining engineers, metallurgical engineers, environmental scientists, a full range of professions."
The release of the grim survey results arrives just as hedge funds dramatically raise their short selling of mining services companies, in response to a report by UBS analysts released this week which forecasts a stunning 20 per cent decline in capital expenditures by mining firms globally for the 2014 calendar year.
Engineering firms now figure prominently on the S&P/ASX 200 Index's list of the top 20 most shorted stocks for the past six months, which currently includes Transfield, UGL, Boart Longyear, Bradken and Monadelphous.