[AMA] I Work in Underground Mining, Ask Me Anything!

Hey everyone,

I have been working in mining for the past 4 years, 2 years spent as a vac student during uni and the other 2 in a full time surveying role. I have worked in open pit previously, but now moved onto UG mining.

Any questions on the industry or my role feel free to ask!

closed Comments

  • +1 vote

    Did you grow up in a remote area? If not, I'm assuming you work in a remote area, so how do you cope if the remoteness is new to you?

    • +1 vote

      I grew up in a fairly small town in coastal Tassie. The mine is on the west coast of tassie, so its only a 3 and a bit hour drive to Hobart so it isn't anywhere near as remote as some WA/QLD mines. The time away from home gets a bit tiring but you just make sure you stay busy after work (gym/bushwalk) etc.

      • +2 votes

        How often do you traverse the map of Tassie?

      •  

        Calling Rosebery, do you copy?

  •  

    what car do u own?

    • +3 votes

      Duh…. everyone knows its a Commodore Ute SV6.

    • +5 votes

      A shitty ford fiesta, way too many animals on the drive into work. Not worth having anything that I would care about.

      • +1 vote

        a big 4x4 with bullbar would be useful

        • +21 votes

          Buying an expensive car in a commodity cycle industry isn't the best idea.

          • -1 vote

            @Barefoot Miner: You need to spread your wisdom more. But then again, I guess that's why you're a surveyor and not the guy with the pickaxe.

          • +1 vote

            @Barefoot Miner: don't you make hundreds of thousands a year? lol, an old 4wd is not that expensive

            • +13 votes

              @Oz8argain: I do alright for myself, but seeing how volatile mining jobs can be you need to be smart with your money. Just running costs is the biggest thing for me, big work commute every 8 days adds up.

              •  

                @Barefoot Miner: Time to get a rally spec roll bar for your fiesta then. Shouldnt cost too much. We had a crash with a kangaroo at dawn once in a Prado and it completely crushed the bull bar into the hood. At the height of the fiesta, it would have gone through the windscreen. Take care.

  • +32 votes

    how many times a day does "heigh ho" get sung when the guys are swinging pick axes down there?

  •  

    What type of ore?

    Do you worry about your lungs inhaling dust/metal particles all day? The long term impacts.

    • +5 votes

      Base metals (zinc,lead,gold,silver). They monitor air quality all the time, workplace standards pull people aside and fit personal air monitors checking for diesel particulates and dust. Plus our blood lead levels get taken every 6 months, mine has gone up but still well within safe limits. If anything is above work standards they pull you out of work till your levels drop down.

      •  

        Ah cool. Sounds like Rosebery.

      •  

        How is your lung capacity?

  • +37 votes

    Were you the one that message me on Gumtree? I still have the car for sale for your daughter.

    • +3 votes

      No? Don't have kids

      • +34 votes

        It's a joke about a common gumtree (other private sales) scam where the buyer says they're "working in a remote location and can't go and take a look at or pick up the car/goods themselves".

    • +1 vote

      Huge fan

    •  

      Your buyer is coming tomorrow to buy my car that is for sale. I gave him account detail so that he can transfer the money before he even sees it… not very picky buyer… also small correction….he works at the remote oil rig but he taking a day off tomorrow…

  • +5 votes

    do you have a canary?
    .

  •  

    Babes?

  • +2 votes

    how much do you get paid?

    • +8 votes

      127k package

      • +2 votes

        127k package

        "Package" its a quite confusing to me.
        So, how much you receive in dollars and cents rather than as benefits of the package.
        Also what are your obligation in term of work hours, shifts, availability?
        Is it a permanent position (until "fired") or a contract (XX months)?

        Thank you in advance to these quite personal questions :)

        • +4 votes

          116k is fixed min income (this includes 10% super), bonus' are around 10% can go up to 20%.
          8 days on 6 off roster, 20 working days annual leave. Permanent.
          Some fringe benefits like a fuel card up to 5k and pre-tax housing. Can get private health discounts as well.

        • +2 votes

          FYI a really good jumbo operator on site can earn 230k+, no formal qualifications needed and all meals/accommodation supplied for a residential mine.

          • +1 vote

            @Barefoot Miner: There's gotta be a catch. High chance of injury, who you know, few jobs, etc. Why is it so high?

            • +1 vote

              @orangetrain: The job is physically demanding in a harsh environment, I would average 12-13 hour days and don't usually have a lunch break. Being away from home gets to people as well, the retention rate is pretty low (average 2-3 years at any one site) and not everyone can handle being underground.

          •  

            @Barefoot Miner: Can you explain more about a jumbo operator? or link any resources. is there a reason more people don't go for this job?

            • +2 votes

              @hadronox: You can't go and train directly as a jumbo operator you have to become a nipper first, which is by far the most physically intense job in the mining industry. You are just assisting the jumbo by feeding it bolts and mesh and are basically outside the cab in the heat the whole time. Most jumbo contractors get paid per bolt or m³ of development so they never take breaks and absolutely fly around the place trying to get as much done in a shift. Some nippers are lucky and may only do that for 1-2 years and get a job on a jumbo, others maybe doing it for 5 years+ and never get the chance. A good jumbo operator is worth their weight in gold on a mine site.

            •  

              @hadronox: https://www.seek.com.au/jumbo-operator-jobs quick search shows a fair few jobs advertised, some residential jobs are less than 200k but there is a lot less pressure on performance at those jobs. Contract miners always pay well and by performance so they are high pressure, high reward positions.

  • +1 vote

    What exactly do you do day to day? Physically intense?

    • +1 vote

      Everything to do with positioning, laying out designs for mining/blasting, getting laser scans of voids. Yes it is, mainly because of the heat and humidity underground.

      • +2 votes

        Do you use ANFO for blasting? Where is it typically stored and what primers do you use?

        Asking for a mate.

        • +3 votes

          Use anfo emulsion, dets/boosters etc are Orica. Everything is stored underground and GPS tracked trucks deliver it from the ports

        • +3 votes

          "maaaate"

  •  

    How easy or difficult would it be for someone with no experience in mining to get a job and what would the starting pay be like?

    • +1 vote

      Mining companies do generally prefer inexperienced people, since they have no preconceptions about mining and can be trained up better. You would have more luck in residential role mines over DIDO/FIFO roles, that being said things are picking up so they aren't out of the question. Entry level operator roles are very site specific, starting from 70k up to 100k.

    •  

      We are putting cleanskin operators on all the time, but in line with what loky said I work at a residential mine site. You’d have to start off with a contracting company but if you put some effort in and show a good attitude after a year or two you can get a full time position with the mine.

      Prices are high now would be a good time to start out.

  • +2 votes

    Do they frisk you in the gold operation?

    •  

      And you have to do number 2 at work.

    • +1 vote

      There isn't any visible gold at this operation, its all locked up in other minerals which is extracted in the milling process

  •  

    How's the coal industry? Do industry blacklists actually exist?

    • +1 vote

      Haven't worked in coal at all, but if you get a gig in UG coal you are laughing all the way to the bank. What do you mean by industry blacklists? Company's that are unsafe or?

      • -2 votes

        Lmao it all goes to tax anyways. Doubt there'd much bonuses given the downturn. Heard from a friend if you whistleblow, did something wrong, old company is preventing you from sharing IP - the industry has this blacklist.

        • +2 votes

          Haven't heard of anything like that, they advertise anonymous whistle blower hotlines pretty clearly. The industry is surprisingly small, chances are if you burn a bridge at one site it will follow you around applying for others.

  •  

    Do you like hard rocks?

    • +10 votes

      Prefer soft ore bodies

  •  

    Do they provide all meals?

    • +2 votes

      I'm residential so I have to cover my meals. Having worked at a camp before it's not such a bad thing, at least you have choice over what you want and you get sick of camp food eventually

      • +1 vote

        Interesting.
        I used to be in a camp. ALL accommodation and food provided. Never missed one bit not cooking, not cleaning my room/box, no bed laundry, no bills. Is it me?

    • +2 votes

      Depends on the operation and company. If you are on a camp you will have all your meals provided. If you are residential then it can vary. Some places just pay you a wage and you are on your own. Some places provide you with a living assistance which you use to pay rent, food, fuel etc. It really depends on who you work for.

      OP is right though, camp meals can get repetitive, however in terms of saving money, unless you smoke or drink, whilst on shift you spend $0 on living expenses.

  • +12 votes

    Have you joined the Mile low club?

    • +8 votes

      Not yet, definitely goes on though

  • +9 votes

    whats the deepest depth into the earth that you can still connect to the ozbargain website?

    • +33 votes

      I have successfully bargained at 1038m below the earth, possibly deeper if a new office gets put in

  • +3 votes

    Underground mining… Illegal bitcoins?

    • +15 votes

      I prefer tangible commodities

  •  

    Talking to a mine owner last year open cut greywacke Brisbane telling me there's a shortage of surveyors Orica was doing it for them.

    •  

      Yeah there is a huge supply shortage of surveyors in general, lots being snapped up by well paying rail projects in Sydney etc. They would be paying some serious money to have contract surveyors to come and cover.

      • -1 vote

        Did my powder monkey course before before 11/9 after that department of mines and energy asked why you still have a ticket if you don't work in this field? I'd send back because i studied and paid for it and they would renew it till finally found better money elsewhere.

        In training we were meant to use shopping bags at the bottom of toe in to block the ttx. One day we forgot what a sight that was 14mtr bench with a powder factor 1.6 and a 300mm toe there was about 15 of us so the blame went to the quarry.

  •  

    Is mining equihash still profitable with pascal gear?

  •  

    Do you use any respirator, how breathing dust affect your health?

    • +1 vote

      I always keep a dust mask inside my helmet. It isn't usually all that dusty, water trucks drive by spraying the drives and we run hoses into voids when we are digging them out. I'm less concerned underground than I was in open pit since we had asbestos forming around the pit that was kicked up on dusty/windy days.

      •  

        Please elaborate more regarding asbestos forming, was it natural asbestos actual getting made or inadvertently mined? Or from equipments?

        And what was done for safety of the people working there?

        •  

          Fibrous asbestos forms naturally, there are grades of danger I think blue asbestos is the worst and I've only come across white asbestos that was growing around some serpentine. They knew it was there from exploration drilling so it was flagged and made sure it was kept wet and people wore masks. The danger was low but you never know if something might catch up with you.

  •  

    Asking for a friend

    Are there graduate opportunities in this field? Especially for chemical engineers

    • +1 vote

      I wouldn't know specifically about chemical engineering, that would be more in the refining/milling process which I'm not involved with. They take on grads frequently, usually geos/engineers under a program where you get exposure to nearly every job on the mine site. Unfortunately you aren't reserved a spot when your grad program finishes so a lot of people end up jumping sites.

    •  

      Depending on what you are looking for there are opportunities in the mining industry for Chemical Engineers. I am a Chemical Engineer and Metallurgist (2 degrees) and currently work in design consulting, however I have contracted as a plant met and worked in a continuous improvement role. Metallurgy and Chemical Engineering have a lot of overlap however there are areas of that aren't covered by each degree, that kind of stuff you can learn on the job through a graduate program.

      My biggest advice is for you to focus on extra curricular activities whilst at university. Work with your student clubs, volunteer etc. do something that will separate you from all of the other grads in your year. Grades are not everything.

      Secondly think about what you want to do career wise. If you want to work in the mining industry you are going to have to be prepared to move around. Yes there is FIFO options, however as a graduate these are going to be limited. Even as someone with experience I see a lot of opportunities that are residential.

      Finally, good luck. Hunting for grad work can be painful but you need to be in the game to win.

  •  

    What's your fastest sprint time through the Zeehan spray tunnel?

    Do you think Tullah would be a good setting for a horror movie?

    •  

      I've spent too much time down a different hole to have time to go and visit the spray tunnel, it's on my list. Most definitely there are a few old mine shafts lurking around the area, which if you are brave and have a gas monitor you could get into.

  • -1 vote

    Is mining making a comeback?

    • -2 votes

      Wait for the new 7nm cards from AMD and we'll see

    • +1 vote

      Definitely sentiment among everyone is good at the moment, prices are high and companies are starting to be a bit more competitive with wages. A lot of mines are just trying to rip out as much high grade as possible while the price is good. Short term success, but doesn't mean a stable long term operation.

    •  

      I work in the mining industry in WA and the short answer is - yes

      I'm in engineering design, so at the beginning of new projects, but next year the ramp up and the subsequent benefit to the industry and broader economy will become noticeable

      We've been through some tough years but that is now in the past - onward and upward

      • +1 vote

        That’s good to hear. It’s about time we got that stuff out of the ground again.

  •  

    Do you see many environmental issues caused by this mine? Is anyone seriously bothered/doing anything about those or is it more going with the flow until the inspection comes?

    • +2 votes

      Mining on the west coast goes back more than 120 years, unfortunately most of the damage was done a long time ago when they didn't care or know any better. That damage is up to the government to manage, once a company buys a site they are immune from any old environmental issues caused from legacy work. Anything they do from when they bought the site must be managed within the guidelines set by the EPA/government regulations. The inspections I've seen are very strict, random inspections happen frequently and most mines have dedicated enviro teams to manage tailings dam discharge and any leakage. The EPA and government have the power to shut the operation down at anytime if they feel it isn't being managed properly.

  •  

    What's life like in Tassie, how much is needed per year to sustain an average lifestyle not being stressed about it?

    • +1 vote

      Housing is very cheap on the west coast, you could buy a house for sub 100k now. Prices were 350k+ during the boom. I live pretty lightly so only really spend 1200 a month since housing is subsidised by work. Houses in Hobart have skyrocketed in the last 3 years, which is a shame since I really want to buy one down there. Wages are lower here than the most other places across the country, so with the house prices booming a lot of people are struggling. Something has to give soon, not everyone is on six figures down here. I consider myself extremely lucky to be where I am financially and trying to make the most of it before the economy takes a hit.

      •  

        Are there nice places to live on west coast? Looks like Hobart got a bit of investor money, no way local demand can run the prices that much in a short term.

        • +1 vote

          Strahan is really nice, but there isn't any large cities around which is a deal breaker for most people. A lot of welfare people are drawn to the west coast due to the cost of living as well. Yeah it's a killer, I'm almost hoping the property market tanks so I can finally get around to going something.

  • +1 vote

    Do you use mga coordinates underground? If so, how do you transfer them from the ground?

    • +1 vote

      We have our own mine grid, which is just arbitrary to a point on site. The elevation is flipped so no negative numbers when mining deeper. Everything has been traversed in from the surface, the mine is so old and so deep now our adjusted coordinates would be out by tens of meters from the surface to the bottom. But that doesn't matter since everything is relative from where we are mining. We have check stations in areas with low seismicity and we do gyro surveys to check our orientation every few years. If we a linking two tunnels from separate areas of the mine we do close loop surveys to adjust for error.

      Maintaining working survey control is a never ending battle since the walls squeeze a lot, moving the point you have as a reference. We put check stations in the roof of the tunnel since they generally move less than the walls do.

  •  

    Watch out for falling rocks. My mate had to get his shoulder reconstructed because of one that crushed it.

    •  

      Yeah I'm always on they look out for shitty ground conditions, had a few large seismic events which sent shit flying around. Just hold your helmet and run!