The biggest problem hardrock mining employers have with new starters

The biggest problem hardrock mining employers have with new starters

With any of the entry level hardrock mining jobs, surface or underground (like truck driver). The employers need all their new starter to be able to do the same thing. It’s the biggest problem the employers have with their new starters, so what is it? Most people think it would be learning to drive the truck, turns out it’s not. The biggest problem hardrock underground employers have with new starters is being able to leave them on their own to get on with the job safely.

The longer a new starter needs to have a “babysitter” with them in the truck. Or has to be closely watched by the senior members of the crew on the job (Nipper, Offsider, Agi). Then the higher the chance that person will failure. I know most people naturally assume driving the truck is the most important skill they will have to learn. However, with safety at the forefront of everything we do on a hardrock mine site. It’s the new starter’s ability to be left alone, to safely get on with the job that counts. This is what the employers are after. If the new starter can’t do this, then they will quickly be given a “window seat” (the sack).  It’s not until the new starter understands how the mine works and what everyone does in it, that they can’t be left alone.  

In over 25 years of mining, I have only ever come across a handful of people that couldn’t learn to drive the truck. While I have seen hundreds fail because they couldn’t pick up how the mine works quick enough. If you go in green (no mining knowledge on day one) to an entry level hardrock mining job. Then you have a greater than 50% chance of failing. So how and why do so many fail?

All the hardrock mining employers have to issue their own onsite equipment tickets and procedures. This means that they don’t use formal qualifications, rather an on-the-job training system. This is why you can’t go down to your local TAFE and sign up for a mining course. If you look at the job ads they all just ask for experience. The on-the-job training unfortunately turns into sink or swim training, with a high turnover. Its not like the employers haven’t tried everything in the last 25 years to improve it, they have spent millions.

The problem still remains the same. That when you go in green, you are on the employers time line, in their system. This means if for whatever reason you don’t pick it up quick enough (and lots don’t). They will not be afraid to give you a window seat. The employers have been pouring people though these jobs for years now. You just have to type “underground” into seek to see all the jobs come up. Underground Training has a page that post jobs you should be applying for once you have completed one of their packages, Introduction to Underground Mining, W1N-W1N or Workready. It’s just a constant flow of jobs and in a short time you will see the pattern of jobs repeating themselves.

I recently got a call from one of the guys that did the training and got a job 8 months ago. He was after some advice about his next job, but we ended up talking about the 3 new starters that started on his crew last swing. The first one lasted 2 days. The second got sent home on shift change (2&1 swing) because they weren’t working out. The 3rd handed their notice in on fly out day, which was a shame because apparently they did a good job, but it wasn’t for them. This is the problem for both employer and employee.

The best solution to the problem is to learn how the mine works and the jobs you are going to have to do as a Nipper, Truck Operator, Offsider or Agi Operator before you go. This allows you to know exactly what you are getting yourself into and decide if you really want to go hardrock mining This is why the Underground Training packages were written by a group of WA shift bosses. The information in the training is everything (good and bad) they want a new starter to know, before coming onto one of their crews. When employers hire people that have done the training the failure rate goes from above 50% to less than 10%. This is why the employers interview just about everyone that does the training. Because if they find someone that has studied and prepared themselves properly its an easy win. However if the person can’t answer the mining question in the interview. Then it’s easy for the employers to move onto the next person.  

There is 50 hours of important information you need to learn. You can use one of the Underground Training packages to do it. It will not only make it much easier to get a start. It will ensure you have all the information and tools you need to make it past your first 6 months. Giving yourself a head start to climb the crew ladder into one of the $700 to $2000 a day jobs like Charge Up, Longhole, Bogger and Jumbo.

I hope you found that information helpful. If you want to talk to one of the Underground Training shift bosses about how to get into the industry then leave your details in the link.



The Mining Coach