Rio Tinto Plc

Western Australia's mining boom ebbs along with China's economy

Western Australia's mining boom ebbs along with China's economy

Joe Norton, a large man with a sun-burnt face, digs into a plate full of beef, potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts at Searipple, a mobile-home camp in Australia's western frontier.

It isn't the tastiest food in the world, the 54-year-old says, but it's free, provided by his employer, iron mining giant Rio Tinto.

So is most everything else in his life: all his meals, a Fleetwood-manufactured house with microwave and flat-screen TV, a round-trip ticket every Friday to fly home, and not the least, his $180,000 salary.

Not bad for a man with an eighth-grade education doing semi-skilled work on railways transporting iron ore.

Yet the gig probably won't last a lot...

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