Mining giant Rio Tinto will today launch one of the single biggest recruitment drives in Australian history, using Olympians to appeal to the aspirations of thousands of potential new workers.

The miner wants tradespeople, engineers, planners, project professionals, geologists and operators to fill vacancies at projects worth $22 billion that are either under way or about to start at sites across the country.

It is understood Rio hopes to fill about 6000 vacancies during the four-month campaign, with about two-thirds at its 14 WA sites. The company is seeking to increase capacity in the Pilbara by 50 per cent by 2013 to 353 million tonnes per annum, which would create Australia's the largest integrated mining project. It is believed most of the positions must be filled within the four-month campaign, with many available from today. But other candidates will be bookmarked as vacancies at its 30 sites around the country arise later in the year.

The unprecedented campaign, which includes a 1300 MINING hotline, is the first time a major mining company has made such an aggressive push for workers.

It is likely to spark a battle with its peers, such as BHP Billiton, which will also need thousands of workers for its expansion plans in the next year. Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill will need 8000 new workers in the next three years.

The shortage of skilled workers is so dire that the Federal Government this week revealed it would raise permanent migration levels by 5000 people annually.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday supported the Government's migration announcement, predicting WA was still on course for a chronic shortfall of workers.

Chief executive James Pearson said WA would fall 210,000 workers short by 2020.

A spokesman for Rio Tinto confirmed the recruitment program was for "thousands" of people. All positions were for projects that were already under way or which had received the green light.

"The recruitment campaign has a real people focus and is all about attracting skilled employees to fill critical roles across Rio Tinto's mining operations in Australia," the spokesman said.

"We are the engine room of the Australian economy and we're looking to recruit engineers, planners, project professionals, geologists, operators and trades people to help us bring our new projects to life."

The spokesman said the use of gold medal Olympians to spearhead the campaign played on Rio Tinto's role in creating the 47,000 medals for winning athletes at the London 2012 Games.

We are the engine room of the Australian economy and we're looking to recruit. "Rio Tinto spokesman

The West Australian

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