Register for full access to the website

Login Register

FAQ – Mining Work

FAQ – Mining Work

Are There Companies That Will Train Me To Drive Trucks Etc?

For an entry level mining job as a Mobile Equipment Operator (truck, road train, dump truck, etc) a HR Licence is usually a good start as this is a basic requirement of any Operator position. However, with regards to specific training, most companies have their own requirements and training, so it is advisable to check this before signing up for training courses.

Usually, internal training and entry level mining jobs are advertised either directly from the company or as traineeship programs. As a part of your strategy to get a job in mining, we strongly advise contacting companies direct and keeping an eye on advertisements for these types of entry level mining jobs.

We are out of the downturn and now there is plenty of work on the mines!

There are always new mines coming on line in Australia. Existing mines can be at various stages of development or of their operational lifecycle and require different types and quantities of labour. So essentially, to get a job in mining for candidates with no mining experience, this is all a part of the cycle. There are fluctuations in the industry – times when employment is at a peak and other times when the industry is more depressed. For example, when we went through boom times in 2006-2007, gaining a start in mining was relatively simple (so long as your expectations were in line with what was required). FIFO mining jobs for people who had no experience were in good supply. When the boom went to bust though, all the new people looking to get a job in mining were now competing with experienced miners and so entry level mining jobs dried up quickly. The cycle is now back in positive territory and mining companies are hiring again.

We have seen a pick up in the industry since of the start of 2017 so there is plenty of work to be found across Australia and offshore in the mining industry. You just need to consider that relocation and starting at the bottom in a residential mining town could potentially be your best chance to get a job in mining.

You should also refer to our Current Market/Commodities section. We update this commentary regularly.

Once I’m in the industry, will I have stable work?

That depends on the type of mine or position you end up working in. As a reference point, some entry level mining jobs include Drillers Offsiders or Field Technicians, both of which work in the exploration industry. When things in the mining industry are going well, these areas often flourish and are great opportunities for people looking to get a job in mining. However, when things quieten down again, exploration is the first thing to stop. In a general sense for operating mines, this work is not the most stable type of work when compared to say the food processing industry. When you understand how mining works (that is, the lifecycle of a mine) you’ll see why it is not possible to predict whether your job will still be there for you in three years or even one year. If you are employed in a large scale Iron Ore mine you are likely to have more stable employment than if you are employed with a small Gold producer. To explain further, an Iron Ore mine might have a total mine life of 50 years or more. As an example, Mt Whaleback in Newman has been operating since the 1960s, whereas some Gold operations will have a total mine life of 5 years – so you can see there are large variations in the stability of each operating mine. Whenever a mine is to shut down, reduce staff or go in to care and maintenance, it makes sense that as they reduce their workforce they will retain experienced employees that can do multiple tasks, meaning that those with minimal mining experience may be the first to lose their job. However, when you have experience in the industry, you become a lot more employable on other mine sites. Gaining new skills and qualifications while you work is very valuable in making you employable if your job finishes up.

You should also refer to our  section under Mining In Australia. We update this commentary regularly.

How much will I earn working in mining?

It depends what role you take on. To be clear though, entry level mining jobs very rarely pay $100,000+. They can do, but you will probably find yourself working a four weeks on, one week off roster. To earn the ‘big bucks’ that you hear about you usually need 1.) experience and 2.) to commit to FIFO or DIDO work, for which you will get extra allowances. Machine Operators can earn over $100,000, or in some instances, up to $200,000 a year, but other roles attract less money. Most people working on FIFO or DIDO jobs earn a salary in the six-figure range, however for most entry level mining jobs, you need to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. Initially, you might only be offered a position paying $80,000 or $90,000 but as your experience grows, so will your salary and so you need to do all that you can to gain that start in mining. It must also be said that with big salaries come (at times) big rosters where you might be working in excess of two weeks on and one week off. This means you would be working up to 12 hours per day for two weeks straight before you get a break.

Is mining work easy?

No, generally not. Again it depends on your position, but mining work often takes place in regions with harsh environmental and climatic conditions. You will be expected to work hard and long for your pay. Shifts often last 12 hours and may be physically demanding. You will also need to be conscious of mine/workplace procedures, policies and safety, at all times.

What sort of jobs are available on the mines?

See our Positions page for a detailed list. You can also see our Employers page for a list of employer categories.

Who are the good employers in the mining industry?

There are some companies that are considered better employers than others. On the other hand, some workers say that there is little difference between various employers. When you make your decision about a certain company that you would like to work for, it’s best to look at the whole package. This doesn’t just mean your employment package – it includes the company culture, whether the employer is considered a family-friendly company, what sort of training and development you will receive, the company’s reputation, the camp’s facilities and anecdotal information from people you speak to.

I have no experience or skills. Can I still get a job in mining?

Unskilled workers are able to access ‘entry level mining jobs.’ The mining industry can employ many unskilled and inexperienced workers because it has excellent training pathways in place. Mining spends much more money on training that most other industries. This comes from the necessity to train large workforces in short periods of time. Apprentices and Trainees make up around 5% of the total mining workforce, with a good 20% of those being mature aged (over 21 years). Having said that, it is much better to arrive at the job application stage with skills and/or qualifications behind you. The majority of mining workers have either completed an apprenticeship, a traineeship, a TAFE or university degree, or some form of accredited training course (HR Licence, Confined Space, Working at Heights, etc).

What’s the difference between FIFO and DIDO work?

FIFO stands for fly-in-fly-out. DIDO stands for drive-in-drive-out. If you’re a FIFO worker, you can live a long distance from the mine site (even overseas). DIDO workers generally live within a half a day’s drive of the work site and they may travel in their own car or commute into site on a mine workers’ bus. Find out more about FIFO and DIDO. In most cases, FIFO and DIDO operations require employees to stay in the operations mining camp for the duration of their swing (roster).