Here are the top 10 things you need to know BEFORE you start searching for your first mining job.
1. Mining jobs are found in the mining areas of the mining countries
This sounds pretty obvious, but if you are not currently living in a mining area of a mining country, you will have to move there and get yourself used to a very different environment. Mining areas are usually located in remote regions.
There you might face high altitude, icy and snowy climate, deep tropical forest, desert environment. Should you get a job in an underground mine, your working conditions may include heat, noise, darkness and humidity.
Despite the huge progress made to grant miners fair living conditions, mining camps or mining cities are not always fun.
There are obviously some exceptions. You can start your career at the corporate office of a mining group in London. This really depends on your profile and the kind of job you would like to find. But if you are an engineer, be prepared to go on site.
That’s where the interesting things are actually happening.
2. The mining industry works 24/7
The mining industry is always on. The miners usually work long shifts of 10 to 14 consecutive days, with some days off between shifts. The remote location of the mining operations requires some miners to remain in the mining camp for months before going back home.
A typical 12-hours shift might also be hard to stand especially underground. Good health, psychological strength and stamina are necessary.
3. Most mining jobs are qualified to highly qualified jobs
The young guy starting as helper to experienced miners and learning skills on the job tends to be an image of the past.
The increasing complexity of the mining process and involved technology nowadays requires a much higher level of skills, including computer literacy.
As a result, most of the mining groups will more likely hire recently graduated students from high school programs in mining or technical school programs in mine technology.
Such schools and program are usually located in mining areas, which also give future workers the opportunity to get used to a mining environment and benefit from professional training opportunities.
4. The mining industry is relatively more dangerous and unhealthy than other industries
As stated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in the 2010-2011 Career Guide to Industries:
“Working conditions in mines, quarries, and well sites can be unusual and sometimes dangerous. (…) Workers in surface mines, quarries, and wells are subject to rugged outdoor work in all kinds of weather and climates, though some surface mines and quarries shut down in the winter because snow and ice covering the mine site makes work too dangerous. Surface mining, however, usually is less hazardous than underground mining. (…) Underground mines are damp and dark, and some can be very hot and noisy. At times, several inches of water may cover tunnel floors. Although underground mines have electric lights along main pathways, many tunnels are illuminated only by the lights on miner's hats. Workers in mines with very low roofs may have to work on their hands and knees, backs, or stomachs, in confined spaces. In underground mining operations, unique dangers include the possibility of cave-in, mine fire, explosion, or exposure to harmful gases. In addition, dust generated by drilling in mines still places miners at risk of developing either of two serious lung diseases: pneumoconiosis, also called "black lung disease," from coal dust, or silicosis from rock dust. These days, dust levels in mines are closely monitored and occurrences of lung diseases are rare if proper procedures are followed. Underground miners have the option to have their lungs x-rayed on a periodic basis to monitor for the development of the disease.”
Higher prevalence of HIV infection also impacts miners, especially those who work in Africa.
Not considering illegal mining, dramatic accidents regularly reported by the news remind us that mining industry (open-pit or underground) is relatively more dangerous and unhealthy than other industries.
Mining suppliers may also be affected. On-site or off-site explosives manufacturing is a typical example of a high risk job.
Restrictive legislations and safety rules (some being unfortunately issued in reaction to an accident, as occurred after the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster), compulsory personal protective equipment (PPE), together with a lot of educational efforts have been done to prevent such accident and mitigate the risks. In order to tackle identified aggravating factors, most mining sites have a zero tolerance policy on alcohol consumption and perform regular random drug tests.
5. Mining jobs are not only for men
Mining is a historically male-dominated industry (even worst: women were believed to bring terrible luck in underground mines!) but things are changing.
Associations like Women in Mining “promote the professional development of women working in the sector - worldwide - by offering a website with relevant content to enhance women's knowledge and possibilities.” (source: WiM website)
In Australia, women represent 20% of the mining workforce. In Canada, their participation has increased steadily from just over 10 per cent in 1996 to 14 per cent in 2006. A gender pay gap still exists but is not that specific to mining.
6. All kind of jobs are available
All kind of jobs are available from secretarial to driver and from IT to financial clerk. Obviously engineers and technicians are the most common jobs available.
7. Technical jobs in mining are specialized either for underground or open pit
Open pit mine is not underground mine and vice versa. People are specialized. The culture is also different as well as many aspects of the job and of the safety surrounding the job.
New kinds of jobs are coming up with undersea mining development. Here again, a specialty will develop from standard mining fundamentals. High level jobs for sure, but rewarding ones.
8. Mining jobs are well paid… because of all that
Coopers Consulting and PWC released in September 2011 the latest Mining Industry Salary Survey.
The survey reports that a recently graduated Canadian mining engineer starts his career at $70 000. His salary will reach $75 000 after one or two years of experience.
Australia is also short in engineering workforce, especially in the drill and blast area, and offers attractive packages.
9. You should better have an interest or (better) a passion for mining
Working for the Mining industry is quite a challenging choice and requires stamina and passion to be successful. But…
10. A mining job is more than a job
A mining job is a non-return choice. Once started, you will get the virus. Forever.
Still on to start your search?
You can start by following this link.
And… All the best in your new career!
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