Hardrock Underground

Hard Rock Underground Mining

Hard rock mining has been happening for the last 150 years. From the days of hammer and tap to our current methods of drilling and blasting with explosives, it is used to mine many different minerals including copper, gold, silver, diamonds, lead, zinc, nickel and many other base metals. While this was once a very dangerous way to mine, current methods have improved safety to the point that it is no more dangerous than working in the construction industry.

Jobs: The roles underground are many and varied. Entry level roles include Nipper, Truck Operator, Drillers Offsider, Service Crew, Charge Up, Diamond Drillers, Long Hole Operators, Bogger Operators and Jumbo Operators.

Salary: $70,000 – $300,000

Rosters: Either 8 days on 6 days off; 7 nights on 7 days off; or 2 weeks on 1 week off Fly in Fly out. Live in jobs would be typically 4 days on 4 days off.

Companies involved: Rio Tinto, HWE, Barminco, Australian Contract Mining, Newmont Asia Pacific, Newcrest Mining Limited, Barrick Gold, Lightning Nickel, Mincor Resources NL, BHP Billiton Nickel West, Byrnecut Mining, GBF Mining & Industrial Services P/L, Boart Longyear, MacMahon Mining, BHP Billiton Olympic Dam Corporation Pty Ltd.


The Foreman is responsible for the employment of miners, promotions, holidays, reviews/pay rises, overseeing the shift boss’s and the safety & training department. The Foreman also helps the departments in coordinating the planning of the mine including a weekly plan that can be given to the shift boss’s to carry out.

Shift Supervisor (Shift Boss)

The Shift Boss is responsible for running the shift. This is a registered position in W.A. They control and are responsible for everything that goes on underground for that shift, including firing, production & development levels, break downs, accidents and all other possibilities.

Safety and Training Officer

The Safety & Training Officer is responsible to do the site and underground inductions, conduct training, issue operator tickets, issue training tickets and investigate incidents.

Jumbo Operator

The Jumbo Operator has the job of drilling the holes in the face of development drives. This includes using either a single boom or twin boom jumbo to do the job. The jumbo drives around on diesel power then plugs into 1000 volt power to run the machine. The jumbo is the main machine used to install the ground support in the mine. A jumbo that is only used to install the ground support is commonly referred to as a bolter.

Long Hole Operator

The Long Hole Operator has the job of drilling the production holes for the stopes. Using a single boom jumbo with a beefed up drifter, a rod changer and carousel at the front these machines can drill up to 250m a shift. The drills all use bits that screw on. These bits have buttons on them that grind the rock which is then flushed out by the running water.

Bogger Operator

The Bogger Operator has the job of bogging heads and stopes after firing. The Bogger is the underground loader. Using different types of boggers either manually or on remotes, it’s their job to get the dirt out to the trucks.

Charge Up Operator

The Charge Up Operator has the job of loading the holes with explosives. This is done off a charge basket using an issued plan from the engineering department. Charge up is a very physical job.

Service Crew

The Service Crew are the plumbers of the mine. It is their job to extend the services, move fans, fix things when they break down and do anything else that may be required. They use poly pipe to send the water and compressed air down the hole to service the mine.

Truck Operator

The Truck Operator has the job of getting the dirt out of the mine as quickly and safely as possible.


The Nipper is the ‘gopher’ of the mine. They drop the crew to work and pick them up at knock off. Also picking up and dropping off anything or anybody that may be required to be moved.

Diamond Driller

The Diamond Driller has the job of drilling samples for the geologist to inspect. They do this by drilling sample holes that take a core sample of the rock, these holes can be up to 400m long. They do this by using specialised drilling equipment.

Diamond Driller Offsider

The Diamond Driller Offsider job is two-fold, that of heavy labourer pulling rods then cataloguing the rock as it is drilled.

Underground Mining Maintenance

These are the people who fix the machines when they break down. The maintenance department also known as “the fitters” work closely with the miners to keep up the maintenance on the machines through regular servicing.

Jobs: Diesel Mechanic, Light Vehicle Mechanic, Electricians, Boilermakers and Workshop Managers

Salary: $90,000 – $160,000

Rosters: Either 8 days on 6 days off; 7 nights on 7 days off; or 2 weeks on 1 week off Fly in Fly out. Live in jobs would be 4 days on 4 days off.

Companies involved: : All major mining companies have their own maintenance crews, Mining Maintenance Technologies, Total Energy Mining Maintenance Company (TEMMCO), ATS Mining Maintenance, HWE, Orixon, Mickala Mining Maintenance, Sandvik Mining, Eastern Mining & Construction, Westrac.

Shift Electrician

The Shift Electrician is responsible for installing and maintaining the power and the equipment used (boxes) to power up the machinery being used. They conduct regular maintenance and checks that are often set down by regulation from the relevant government agency.

Workshop Manager

The Workshop Manager has the job of running the work shop. They order the parts and manage the maintenance of the mining fleet.

Leading Hand Fitter

The Leading Hand Fitter runs the workshop and directs the workshop fitters to carry out the maintenance and breakdowns that occur to the mining fleet.

Workshop Fitter

The workshop fitters are there to service the machines as required. Each machine gets a service every shift worked and on the 125 hour service, 250 hour service, 500 hour service and 1000 hour service.

Underground Fitter

The Underground Fitter attends to any breakdowns that happen on the job in an underground mine. Their job is to keep the machinery going.

Underground Service Persons

The Underground Service Person has the job to service each piece of equipment every shift worked. This is normally an entry level position however a lot of workshops have moved to using fitters to do this service as they are able to spot damage and fix it before it gets any worse.