What Do Mining Machine Operators Do?
Mining machine operators maneuver, maintain and repair a number of different types of equipment used in mining. They must know how to drive a vehicle and how to safely and effectively operate the special features of the machines.The field of mining machine operators is slowly growing in the United States, with around 60 jobs opening up each year. This constitutes an increase of 3 percent over 10 years for the country as a whole, with some areas predicting much higher levels of growth.
Mining Machine Operators Skills and Abilities
In order to work as a mining machine operator, you will need good communication skills as well as mechanical aptitude. You will often have to work in physically uncomfortable environments and be able to do moderately heavy lifting, so you should be in good physical condition. You must also be observant and safety conscious in order to work around heavy machinery in an industrial setting. Being able to coordinate your efforts to work as part of a team is very important.
Mining Machine Operators Duties
You will be operating operating heavy machinery in a mining environment, including:
- Front-end loaders.
- Cable shovels.
- Hydraulic shovels.
- Water-extractors.Your specific duties will vary depending on your area of expertise and the project that you’re working on:
- Keeping an eye on your surroundings.
- Being aware of potential hazards and taking steps to minimize or eliminate them.
- Monitoring gauges and other indicators of equipment performance and adjusting loads accordingly.
- Drilling holes.
- Excavating coal, metal or minerals.
- Removing and transporting ores after they have been extracted.
- Working on the surface, at height or underground, as required.
- Maintaining machinery.
- Repairing equipment.
- Keeping accurate records.
- Following established safety procedures.
- Working in line with local and national environmental rules and regulations.
- Documenting that you have followed the correct procedures.
- Training or supervising others.
- Problem-solving and implementing your solutions.
- Helping to keep the worksite clean and safe.
Mining Machine Operators Tools and Technology
In addition to the mining equipment itself, you’ll use maintenance tools, jacks, exhaust systems and conveyor belts. To operate or diagnose some machines, you’ll need to use a computer interface. Every day on the jobsite you’ll need personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses, boots with steel toes or steel shanks, hard hats, gloves and hearing protection. Depending on your role in the operation, you may also need to use scheduling software and basic office technology.
Education and Training for Mining Machine Operators
You should have at least a high school diploma to work in this field. A certificate or two-year degree in mining technology or heavy equipment technology may help. Any training program in construction trades, industrial arts or heavy machinery will give you some of the background knowledge you need to succeed in this career, and you can also expect a moderate amount of on-the-job training. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) may be required.
Mining Machine Operators Salary
Annual salaries in this job category range from $31,200 to $69,100, or $14.98 to $33.24 per hour. The median annual salary for mining machine operators is $49,200, which works out to $23.63 per hour.
Mining Machine Operators Jobs by Geography
People working the same job in different parts of the country can expect different salaries, depending on their knowledge, skill level and experience. For example, Nevada, West Virginia, California and Illinois all report median hourly wages of more than $27 per hour, or at least $56,700 per year. More mining machine operators are employed in Arizona and Alaska than in any other reporting area, and both of these states expect growth in the field. Alaska is the leader in expected job growth at a rate of over 25 percent in a 10-year period.