5 Common Mining Questions for Starters
February 25th, 2020
We get sent lots of mining questions from people looking to get a start in the resources sector or just wanting to know what’s involved. These are five of the most common questions we come across and how we respond to those who ask.
1. Why do some people struggle to secure regular employment, even with the relevant skills and industry experience?
This is one of the mining questions we hear all the time and whilst there can be a number of reasons for this, how you conduct yourself on a job is the primary reason. Employees who are well established and well respected in the industry, particularly those working in oil and gas – will readily advise their employer if they feel you don’t “pull your weight”, are unsafe to work with or generally difficult to get along with. When living in confined spaces for long periods, it is essential that you do your job competently and safely, and get along well with others. If not, your career could be short lived. Too many people do not understand the importance of this, and find that even though they have the tickets and some experience, they cannot get back onto another job. It is not uncommon for people to be ‘black listed’ by companies or other employees and whilst you may never exactly know that this is the case, you need to be extremely professional in the way you conduct yourself on and off the job.
You also need to be clear about the industry’s drug and alcohol policy. Offshore, there is a zero tolerance to alcohol and drugs and may result in immediate dismissal if you return a positive result. In mining, some camps will have a bar (or wet mess as they are referred to), however random, daily drug and alcohol screening occurs on most mine sites. Should an employee be found to be positive on a drug and/or alcohol test, they will be stood down until further notice and normally disciplinary action is taken. Depending on the severity of the finding, dismissal could occur.
There is the view that what happens outside of work is an individual’s own business and whilst this is true, you still need to be mindful that if you are well known by other workers and colleagues as a habitual drug user, this may be enough to ‘black list’ you from further jobs. Reasonably, individuals do not wish to work alongside someone who may be under the influence of drugs and be putting theirs and others lives at risk in such a dangerous environment. From a Recruiter’s perspective, this will be enough not to progress your application.
2. What experience and skills are best suited to entry-level roles?
Some companies – large and small – will take on employees in entry-level roles, often referred to as “greenies”. The following roles look favourably upon applicants with the following background experience.
Mining Technicians (operating large, heavy mobile equipment):
- Any exposure to or experience working with heavy machinery in a factory or construction environment.
- Farming background – often indicates mechanical aptitude.
- Will often taken on people from the armed and police forces as they are seen to have discipline, are accustomed to authority, have a preference for safe work practices and are willing to start at entry level and move up.
Process Operator/Technician roles (operating some element of the process plant):
- Ideally have worked on a process line, such as dairy, chemical processing, Australia Post or worked with heavy machinery.
- Those who have been farmers and crop sprayers are often successful.
- Having a trade is the single most effective way of gaining employment in the lucrative offshore industry. However, also having tickets for Crane, Rigging, Dogging and Scaffolding will be highly beneficial.
Typically, the best way is to gain employment with any one of the many contracting partners who provide employees to the operations of major resource companies. This includes Mining Camp and Off Shore support roles, like cleaners, cooks and security.
3. What qualifications are best suited to entry-level roles?
4. What equipment is typically used in the resources sector?
- Solomatic Cablebolter
- Axera D07/D06 Jumbo, Axera Superdrill
- Solomatic LH Drillrig, DataSolo LH Drillrig
- Atlas Boltec
- AD 40 Elphinstone Truck
- 50D Toro Truck
- Getman Charge Up
- R1500/R1700G/R2900G Elphinstone Loader
- 120H Cat Grader
- Integrated Tool Carrier (IT)
- Forklift 1.5 tonne
Also expect diggers, explosives, drilling equipment, Bobcat, conveyors, crushers, pumping systems, power generation, turbines and diesel engines for generators. Pressure vessels and valve systems, water making facilities, leaching vessels, smelting and refining.
- High pressure vessels, eg separators which separates oil or gas from water. Pumping systems, water making facilities and sewerage systems.
- Power generation, eg turbines and diesel engines. Electronic equipment, eg PLC controls and central control rooms, radar and navigation, radio equipment.
- Fast rescue craft and work boats, cranes, scaffolding and rigging equipment, hydraulic equipment, compressors, eg air and gas export and re-injection
- Satellite television systems
5. How do I get experience in mining?
Look for companies operating in your local area. When it comes to mining questions like this, many companies recruit their entry-level positions from the local community to provide long-term career opportunities and to develop a strong locally based workforce. Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Port Hedland, Townsville, Mount Isa and Newcastle are key areas for local employment.
Be as flexible as possible – put yourself in the best position to accept contracting work, including shutdowns in remote locations and for work you may not necessarily prefer. Many tradespeople from other industries for example start out by doing Trade Assistant (TA) work or regular shutdowns. This provides you with an opportunity to see and be seen.
Think about other ‘like-type’ environments where you could build relevant experience. For example, manufacturing, construction and industrial experience is highly attractive to the resources sector.
If you have any other mining questions, please reach out to us through our Facebook community here.