So a lot of people ask us questions about the mining that you may have thought about but forgot to ask. We have compiled a list of some of the questions and answers below and hope you find this useful (for more indepth information on some of the topics, check out the blogs in our NEWS section of the site):
Did you know the term “clean skin” is used for an entry level person in mining. This dates back to the underground coal mines when workers would enter the pit clean and come out covered in coal dust which never seemed to completely wash off them. Another term used is “green” which means that you are new to the industry.
DO I NEED A HR LICENCE / MANUAL LICENCE TO OPERATE A DUMP TRUCK
As mines are on privately owned land, it is up to the mine to decide what licence they want you to have, but generally you do not require a HR licence.
Most machines on site do not have a clutch so they are semi-automatic so you will not be disadvantaged by having an automatic licence.
I HAVE LOST MY DRIVER’S LICENCE, CAN I STILL GET A JOB?
This is up to the mine you are being employed by so you would need to check with them.
IT IS EXPENSIVE TO GET THE TICKETS
Most people look at the cost but forget about the gain. How many times have you scraped up $3,500 to go on a holiday and, whilst you have had an amazing time, you come home with nothing to show for it but memories and perhaps a big credit card debt?
Investing in your future is important. Some people spend up to $80,000 in university fees and spend years studying to get paid around $100,000 – $150,000 each year. You would be spending around $3,500 for a week’s training to be earning around the same monies.
Most mines offer camp living, so, whilst you are in camp you are not spending money on entertainment / food / electricity / water / petrol / wear and tear on your car – saving you anywhere from $10,000 – $20,000 a year in expenses.
Lastly, you may be able to get your flights and/or travel to/from airport as part of your employment saving on time and costs.
**Please note:- transport to and from /camp to site are normally included as well and are not in busy areas – meaning you do not have to sit in traffic wasting time each day.
EVERY AD I SEE IS FOR EXPERIENCED ONLY
It can be very expensive and time consuming for a mine to train new staff, especially in machinery, so they will always try and find experienced workers.
The problem with this is when mining starts growing again, the experienced pool gets used up quickly so the mines have no option but to train up new employees. You will start to notice that rates of pay will increase between employers to entice experienced workers and this is when you know that they are going to have to start employing trainees.
All of the economists are predicting that the industry will continue to have a slow steady increase and the mines are starting to advertise for trainees again as they are expanding.
When a position is advertised for a trainee, you have to be ready to apply immediately as there are so many people applying for the roles that even when they have a cut off date for the acceptance of resumes, they will stop looking at them within the first day or 2, so you need to get yourself ready with your tickets, medicals, resume so that you are in the best position possible.
I’M BEING TOLD GAINING QUALIFICATIONS / TICKETS IS A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY
This is something that has been mentioned to us a few times. The way we look at it is:
When an employer advertises for entry level, they are prepared to train you fully HOWEVER, what is going to make you stand out from the crowd?
Doing our machinery courses teaches you:
- Mine site safety protocols
- Horn signalling
- Positive radio communications
- Pre-start machinery checks
The employer knows that :
- You have driven a dump truck so understand how to do this
- You actually liked driving the truck (imagine if they paid lots of money inducting someone only to find out that they do not like driving)
- You have successfully reversed the truck up to an excavator numerous times
- You have driven loaded
- You are proactive because you have gone out and gotten training on your own
Wouldn’t you, as an employer, prefer to hire someone that you know has these skills rather than someone who has never even been near a machine before?
Additionally, our students have had great success in gaining employment within the industry with the qualifications they have gained.
HOW MUCH WILL I GET PAID?
This is entirely dependent on your skillset and what the going rate is at the time, but it can be $90,000 – $150,000 per annum.
Obviously the longer your swing is, the more you will get paid.
DO THE MINES PAY FOR MY FLIGHTS / TRANSPORT ME TO CAMP?
It is up to the mine / recruitment agency that hire you. Most of the mines require you to fly yourself to the main airport nearby and then will have a bus to take you to / from camp and then to / from mine site, though there are a few who pay to fly you – this can also depend on where the mine is located.
Sometimes the mines will salary sacrifice your flights (which means they take it out of your pay prior to paying you and so it is not considered income by the tax department, therefore it is a “salary sacrifice”).
WHAT ARE THE SHIFTS / HOW LONG AM I SUPPOSED TO BE AWAY FROM HOME
Most sites in QLD ask you to do 1:1 which is one week working, one week at home. In WA a lot are 2:1 – 2 weeks working and one week at home.
The average working day is 12 hours and it can be split up where you could be doing one week of day shifts and then the next week is all night shifts, or they may get you to day 3 or 4 days and the remainder nights and swap around the next time you are on shift.
WHAT IS FIFO/DIDO/BIBO?
FIFO – Fly in / Fly out – normally the company employing you are happy for you to fly to the destination and will generally organise a bus to collect you from the airport and take you to camp and provide a return trip to the airport (some of the mines pay for your flights, others require you to pay for your own. Some that require you to pay for your flights will allow you to salary sacrifice your flights, so the money is deducted from your wage meaning you are not taxed on this money).
BIBO – Bus in / Bus out – This is where you will be collected from the airport and taken to camp.
Some sites (especially in NSW) do not offer camp accommodation so they will collect you from a particular place and take you to site each day.
Please note:- If the company do not offer camp accommodation this will be stated on the job advertisement.
DIDO – Drive in / Drive out – For the most part, they ask you to live within 100kms of site and you are to drive yourself in, though some just ask that you drive yourself to camp and then they will bus you to site every day – this will be stated in the job advertisement.
WHAT IS IT LIKE LIVING IN CAMP ACCOMMODATION
Most camps provide you with a donga style accommodation which is a room with a bathroom, tv, small kitchenette and air conditioning (this is not share accommodation). Some sites give you a lockable cupboard so that you can leave your gear there and know that this is your room when you return for your next swing).
There is a large kitchen where they provide food from morning to night and cater for many different tastes including vegan etc. There will be containers for you to gather together the meal you require whilst on shift (lunch or dinner depending on your swing) and they provide things like, wraps, fruit, baked dinners, hot food, salads, muffins, desserts etc.
There is generally a 24 hour gym which is free on most sites. There are also laundry facilities for you to use.
Quite often there will be impromptu get togethers for a game of touch football or cricket etc.
Alcohol can be purchased on most sites at your own cost.
Smoking is permitted in certain sections of most camp and mines.
WOULD MY AGE / MY GENDER BE A BARRIER?
Everyone seems to think that the mining industry is the same no matter which company you work for, but this is not true. It is like any work you do, there are different rules in different mines and it is individuals who decide whether to employ you or not – there is no golden rule.
Some employers prefer to employ a more mature person as they have:
“Been there, done that” and are over the “party” days and are more “settled”
“They are just looking to do the job and go home at the end of the swing”
“Looking for a job to do until retirement”
“Have life experience and are happy to do the job without fuss”
“Generally have older children so are less likely to have the stress of a younger family needing them”
Some employers prefer the younger staff as:
“The employee is younger than them”
“They may feel that the employee will not be so “set in their ways” and more ready to listen and learn”
Some employers prefer female operators as they are generally:
“More gentle on the equipment”
“Are more prone to take directives and learn quick”
Do not let age, gender, race, religion or culture be a negative towards your gaining a future in mining – the only thing stopping you is you!!
COAL BOARD MEDICAL – DO I NEED TO GET ONE?
A lot of the jobs advertised do ask that you have a current coal board medical though it is up to the employer whether they are prepared to pay for this.
One advantage of having it is that the employer knows you are medically capable of being on site, stopping any costly delays on their behalf.
Be aware that if you are not working in the mines, the general rule for the acceptance of a medical is 6 months validity from when you first gained it.
The medical mainly consists of checking your heart, hearing, eyesight – looking for any abnormalities that would stop you from operating large machinery. If you have some area of concern, check with us and we may be able to advise.
Your height or body shape is not an issue so do not let that stop you from going for it.
If you have a medical issue where you are under a specialist, but it is being controlled by medication, get a report from your specialist / optometrist etc. and take it to your local doctor to write up a report. Present this to the doctor completing the coal board medical and, provided it is something that is being controlled by medication or does not affect your driving capability, you should not have an issue gaining your medical.
Please note: You do have to go through a Nominated Medical Advisor for this and prices can vary. To find one near you, click on Nominated medical advisors . These can be found in other states as they may use an affiliate from QLD to complete the report.
COMPANIES ASK FOR RELEVANT RII’S, VOC’S OR BCC’S IN THEIR ADS – WHAT ARE THEY??
RII – Qualifications used in the mining industry generally start with the letters RII, so, if the company is asking for relevant RII’s, they mean that you need to hold the ticket relating to the role.
A good example of this is Dump Truck Driver – they would be after RIIRIS338D – Rigid Haul Truck Operations
If you have an RII ticket, they generally last 5 years (though it is advisable to check on your exact RII ticket).
BCC – This is the initials for Black Coal Competency, which is just another word for RII which is explained above.
VOC – This is the initials for a Verification of Competency. These are gained on a mine site and are generally issued by a Trainer & Assessor. They are evidence that you are qualified to operate certain equipment / machinery on their site and will be size/brand specific but they are not an actual ticket so you will not receive a Statement of Attainment (generally it is placed on your record and some mines will provide you with a sheet showing the VOC).
When looking for machinery roles, you will notice that the employer will generally ask for relevant VOC’s for the size of the machine that they want you to operate. For example, the ad may say: Experienced CAT793 operator, must have relevant VOC.
I HAVE AN RII BUT IT IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT TO THE ONE THE COMPANY IS ASKING FOR
Sometimes the last letter of an RII may be different – that is just due to there being an upgrade to the training material used for the qualification. As long as your qualification is under 5 years old, it will generally still be valid.
If it is the first number that is different, then you have a different level of qualification and the number will tell you the level.
An example of this would be
RIIRIS201D – Conduct local risk control is a Certificate II level
RIIRIS301D – Apply risk management processes is a Certificate III level
If you have a higher level qualification, it may allow you to gain Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) for the lower level qualification but this cannot happen the other way (in other words you cannot RPL a Cert II for a Cert III course that you are doing).
I HAVE A S11 INDUCTION BUT NEED A BMA INDUCTION – CAN I DO CREDIT TRANSFER?
The S11 Induction is made up of 6 units. The BMA Induction is made up of 7 units, 6 of those being the S11 Induction. This means that you can do a BMA refresher (formerly known as a bridging course) for a small fee. You will need to contact BMA to do this.
*Please note: you are required to have a full Statement of Attainment of your S11 Induction to be able to do this, which is something that our S11 Induction course provides.
I HAVE A BMA INDUCTION BUT WANT A S11 – CAN I DO A CREDIT TRANSFER?
Some mining companies may do a straight credit transfer, however most will require you to do a S11 refresher course, which is a condensed version of the course and is cheaper.
Contact an RTO near to you to find out if they can help (generally a refresher is a one day course).
CAN I REFRESH MY OLD CERTIFICATE
Generally you have up to 6 months after the expiration of a course to be able to refresh it. This means that you only have to do a refresher course which is generally shorter and cheaper.
Some Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) will allow you to refresh your course if you have remained in the industry and can provide evidence but it is up to the discretion of the RTO.
I AM GOING TO A MINE THAT REQUIRES ME TO RENEW MY QUALIFICATION EVEN THOUGH IT IS UNDER 5 YEARS OLD / DOES NOT REQUIRE THE QUALIFICATION AT ALL
Every mine has the right to decide what they require on their site when it comes to qualifications, validity etc.
The courses required, length of validity of a certificate are the general requirements for most but not all of the mines.
I'VE SEEN ADS FOR DUMP TRUCK / MOXY / ELECTRIC, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Rigid Haul Truck
This is the truck most surface mines use. It is called Rigid as the front and body of the truck are one whole unit and they rear wheel drive. They achieve faster haulage on flat surfaces and are designed for longer hauling ramps. It also has the capability of carrying larger/heftier loads.
Moxy / Articulated Truck
This truck is used mainly underground on mine sites and can be used on civil sites (though some mines do use them in surface mining). They are purpose built trucks that are able to go over rough terrain to get the job done. The vehicle usually has all-wheel drive and consists of two basic units: the front section, generally called the tractor, and the rear section that contains the dump body, called the hauler or trailer section.
Truck description coming soon…
DO I NEED A POLICE CHECK
This is up to the mine you are being employed by, but it seems that some WA mines request that you have it prior to applying for roles but on the whole, most mines do not require it and do not get one.