Summary of occupation
Miners operate heavy machinery and equipment to excavate, extract and transport ore, coal, rock and other minerals from mines in regional and sometimes remotes areas of WA. They drill and blast into rock to create tunnels deep underground or, in the case of open-cut mines, remove top soil and cut into the earth with bulldozers, drills and explosives. They ensure the mine site is safe by installing reinforcing, lighting, cabling, pumps and, where appropriate, air vents.
Miners work in many parts of the state, from the mineral sands mines in Bunbury and the South West, coal mining in Collie, gold mining in Boddington and the Goldfields, to iron ore mining in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions. They must be prepared to live on site away from home or work on a fly-in, fly-out basis, which involves working on site for a period of time and then returning home for a break. Miners tend to work long hours in potentially dangerous conditions. Their work environments can be cramped, noisy, dirty and dark, though they may work inside air-conditioned vehicles such as bulldozers. As more mining processes become automated, miners are increasingly working in control rooms where they control and monitor mining machinery, which often results in a safer and more comfortable environment.
On average, drillers, miners and shotfirers can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a miner develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Miners use large earthmoving equipment, drilling machinery, boggers (scooping machines), explosives and specialised rock-cutting equipment to excavate and extract minerals and rock. Sometimes these machines are used manually, while others are highly automated and controlled by miner-operated computers. These workers also use large trucks to transport materials out of the mine. Since the environment can be hazardous, all miners must wear protective uniforms that are bright, reflective and cover most of their skin. They also wear and use other personal protective equipment (PPE) including, steel-capped boots, hard hats, goggles, gloves, masks, earmuffs and portable torches.
To become a miner you usually need to complete a traineeship in underground metalliferous mining or metalliferous mining operations (underground). The traineeships usually take 12 to 24 to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.