What they do

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.

Working conditions

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.

Tools and technologies

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a miner you usually need to undertake a traineeship in extractive industries (operations) (level 2 or level 3), surface extraction operations (level 2 or level 3), or underground metalliferous mining (level 2 or level 3). The traineeships usually take between 12 and 24 months to complete.

Entry into this occupation may also be improved by obtaining a qualification in surface extraction operations or a related area. 

The Certificate II and III in Surface Extraction Operations are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.