Working in a Gold Mine: Getting Started
Back in the day anyone could become a gold miner, all you needed was a wheelbarrow, a pick and shovel, and a bit of optimism. Since then picks and shovels have given way to drilling rigs, blasting, and a whole range of plant and equipment that separates gold from rock. It’s an interesting process that mimics (on a much larger scale) the same process used by early prospectors, except using a greater variety of more sophisticated equipment.
But to operate that equipment takes an army of men and women with the right skills. To get a job on a gold mine you need to have a skill you can trade on. You don’t necessarily need job-specific skills to find work on a gold mine; a trade is a good start, but if you don’t have one of those you should at least be doing some type of manual labouring. The thing to remember is that most of the work carried out at a mine is physical, so a high level of fitness is expected.
There are a range of entry-level jobs that can get you started…
- Trades assistant
- Field assistant
- Drillers offsider
- Truck driver
- Laboratory technician
It would be a huge advantage to have some other qualifications that are easily obtainable, too, such as…
- HR License
- Four-wheel drive handling
- Working at heights
- Advanced first aid.
Having one or more of these tickets demonstrates that you’re serious about making the transition from urban tradie to underground miner.
Getting your foot in the door is the first step, but certainly not the last. Most mining companies have good training programs in place where new skills can be acquired. Collectively there are 240 driverless trucks operating in Western Australia alone with other automated machinery following close behind. Technology offers up a whole range of possibilities and is worth bearing in mind when contemplating a career change.
However, before plunging head-first into a job at a gold mine there are a few things to consider. Fly-in-fly-out work can be demanding, especially if you have a young family; it’s likely that that you will miss out on some important occasions. Adjusting to home life after being away for two, three or even four weeks at a time can be challenging, too. If you’re unsure about the FIFO lifestyle, try some short-term contract work before you commit to a permanent situation.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in a gold mine, here are some resources you might find helpful.
The Mining Coach
Site Skills Training
Industrial Recruitment Partners