Who gets to call themselves a miner. How to spot a

Who gets to call themselves a miner?

For most people outside the mining industry this question. Who gets to call themselves a miner, is a very simple question to answer. 

“If you work on a mine site then you are a miner.”

On face value the question doesn’t have a lot of implications attached to it, unless you are asking for advice. If you are asking for advice about the industry, especially about how you can get a job. Then you need to be able to spot the fake, from another area of the industry. Giving out bad advice, on what employers want and how to get a mining (production) job.

For the majority of people when you say miner, they think of someone driving a big truck. Or drilling a hole with a large machine, that we can put explosives in and blow up. These are the production type jobs in the industry (the jobs in the pit or the underground workings), that most people are after but struggle to understand what is required to get a job. Enter the fake miner, with bad advice about getting equipment tickets and pointing people in the wrong direction.

Spotting a fake is easy because within the industry there is a strict attitude and culture as to who gets to call themselves a miner and who doesn’t. In fact, for many different areas like maintenance, it is considered an insult to be labelled a miner. 

So, here’s a rundown

If you use an air leg in an underground mine. Then you are a Miner

These are the people that still use the hand head tools underground, they are as tough as it comes, make lots of money and the only people that call themselves a miner that actually work in the mine. When I first started, if an airleg miner heard someone refer to themselves as a miner, they would take their head off, literally. Today it happens verbally and I have seen this go down many times over the years. This is why people within the industry don’t call themselves miners.   

If you work underground operating a mining machine on an underground crew. Then you’re an armchair miner, operator or rockape (maintenance loving term for those working underground, because our knuckles drag on the ground and we break stuff all the time)

People working on the crew won’t refer to themselves as miners, they normally refer to themselves as an operator using their job title. This means someone working on the jumbo will refer to themselves as a jumbo operator, if you are on the bogger you are a bogger operator. It should be noted, they won’t refer to themselves as a driver always an operator. It’s a HUGE insult to be called a driver underground. If you think it isn’t, try calling someone on the jumbo a “jumbo driver” and see what happens, it won’t be pretty.

If you work in a pit. Then you’re a driller, operator or pit fairy (the loving term given to those working on the surface in the pit)

Like the underground those in the pit define their title by the role that they are doing. Those that use the drill machines are drillers, those that blow things up are on the bomb crew or blast crew (underground it’s called charge up) etc.. The only difference, is being call a driver isn’t a big insult on the surface, lots of happy truck drivers.

If you work on the mill. Then you are a mill operator or a mill rat.

Most people that work on a mill will tell you that they are a mill rat (they wear that badge with pride). Or they will tell you that they work on the mill on a mine site. If you show interest, they will explain which area of the mill they work in and how it works but they will not refer to themselves as a miner.

If you are working maintenance on a hardrock mine surface or underground. Then you are a fitter, sparky, auto-sparky etc..

Again it’s all in the job title and it should be noted that most fitters consider it an insult to be call a miner and will respond with either rockape or pit fairy as an insult in return.

If you work in exploration. Then you’re a driller, offsider or field assistant

For people working on the drill rigs, it’s all about the job, as your title. The driller wants you to know that they are the driller and that the offsiders and field assistants aren’t, there is a pecking order to these things after all.

This leads into the areas of the industry that people often describe themselves as working on a mine site or being a miner. They do this even through their job takes them know where near the production areas of the mine. These jobs have no transferable skills into a production mining job. Which is why people get stuck doing them and can’t move into the production mining job they want.

What makes them dangerous is their advice, they first describe themselves as a miner (let people believe they are in the production side of the industry) then tell someone to do the exact same thing they did, to get their dead-end job. Not the production mining job that everyone wants. It’s bad advice and can set people back years, cost a fortune on tickets the employers can’t use and resumes that don’t get read by the people doing the hiring. These are the areas and people that give out bad advice about to get a production mining job.

So, here’s a rundown

If you work on an oil/gas site you’re a driller, roustabout or construction worker, not a miner

The skills you need in for oil and gas are very different to those required for the production mining jobs. Once you start in oil and gas you tend to stay in that area. It used to be very good money that has become less over the years.

If you work in the camp then you are a utility worker, not a miner

Most people think that the utility jobs are the foot in the door to the industry. In reality it’s a dead in job that has no transferable skills that people get stuck in. The poaching rules that the Utility companies have as part of their contracts with the mine owners, stops people dead in their tracks. Most people don’t find out about this rule until their first swing on site.

If you work shutdown on a mine site, then you are a short-term maintenance worker, not a miner

Social media is full of bad advice from shutdown workers claiming that they are miners. They give out bad advice that just won’t get you a production mining job. The really stupid thing is, most tell people to do the exact same thing they did, that lead to their dead-end job.

If you work construction and civil on a mine site you’re a construction worker, not a miner

This is another huge source of bad information, civil workers that think the same rules that apply to them, apply to the operators on the mine. Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

So why is this important?

Understanding that the people who decide who gets hired and who do not (with production mining jobs). Don’t react well to people referring to themselves as having mining experience, when you only have utility, shutdown or civil experience.  Foreman’s get resumes all the time that start off with I have 5 years mining experience. When they read that, they are thinking this person should be able to use a Bogger, Charge up and help out with service crew. I can use this person, I can through them in the deep-end. Only to find out that they can’t.

Sending in a resume claiming to have mining experience like that, will see your resume most probably thrown in the NO pile straight away and is why many people never get a response back.

If you want a way in then, Underground Training does training for the entry level jobs that are in the hard rock underground mining industry. You only need a manual license, you don’t need any equipment tickets as all the employers we deal with have to issue their own onsite equipment tickets and procedures.

These jobs are nipper, truck operator, service crew, and offsider

If you type “underground” into seek you will see all the jobs come up. They also have a page that they load jobs on, you can apply for, on their site.

Employers are looking for entry-level people on most hard rock underground mine’s around Australia. The problems they have is, teaching someone to drive the truck is easy part, teaching them enough about how the mine works. So they can be left alone to drive the truck on their own, that’s the hard part and why there is a high turnover of new starters.

This means, if you can show the employer that you know how their mine works and what’s going to be expected of you working on their mine site, then you have something to offer them. Showing the employer that you know how the system works is huge and when I say “system”, I’m talking about the culture, language, employment process, everything that makes up the work environment. This is all about setting yourself up for success in the industry and being ready to be thrown in the deep end.

The DIY Introduction to Underground Mining training package, there are full instructions on how to redo your resume (it takes about 2 hours to do yourself) and interview prep questions as well as a mining company to apply to directly. 

If you want help getting in, we also do a Workready package, where you get a ticketed WA shift boss to help you with the mining information (so you can hold a conversation with the foreman in the interview), redo your resume, interview prep and come up with a plan of where and how to get in.

If you’ve got any questions or if you’d like to talk to someone, just let me know

I hope that info helps.

The Mining Coach