Miner  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotDirty, soot-covered faces, hands and clothes -- at least that's the traditional view of a miner. But the image of a dangerous and dirty profession has yielded to the reality of high-tech equipment and little backbreaking labor.

dotMiners load, move, sort and pile mining materials and supplies. Minerals have always been essential to human civilization. Mine products, at acceptable prices, feed the industry of most Western nations.

dotAverage workdays depend on the location. Some jobs involve eight- to 10-hour days, five or six days a week. On projects where miners are flown in and out of the area, there may be 12-hour shifts for 14 days, then five days off.

Miners at remote locations may work 21 straight days of shift work and then have 14 days off.

"As a miner, I'm given a plan or verbally told what is required and I'm left to perform the job," says Joe Slaviero, a miner in Australia.

"Some of the jobs a miner performs are development work -- drilling and blasting access drives, and stopping, which is the process of actually extracting the ore. Miners must be skilled in the safe use of explosives and most hand-held and mechanized mining equipment techniques."

dotThere is still some danger associated with mining, but things are getting better. The dangers are countered by increased use of equipment, says Otto Schumacher. He owns a mining engineering company in Spokane, Washington.

Schumacher thinks operating equipment is where the future of jobs will be in the mining business. "Labor costs have escalated over the years. And this is still a very dangerous occupation."

"As the technology to make mining safer and more productive through tele-operation and robotics becomes more and more prevalent, a career in mining a few years from now will be very, very different from the mining careers of today," says Leif Bloomquist. He is a research and development engineer for a mining company.

At a Glance

Load, move, sort and pile mining materials and supplies

  • This work can be dangerous
  • Shifts are often three weeks on, two off
  • Education: two-year degree in mining technology