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How to become a driller in mining
The mining industry continues to be a rock for the Australian economy, generating billions and employing thousands. The tough conditions on a mining site, don’t make it an easy career choice but it can certainly be a rewarding one.
Arguably one of the toughest jobs, and perhaps one of the most important, is that of a driller and a driller’s offsider. After all, drilling is the heartbeat of a mining operation.
The role of a mining driller or member of a service crew will help move, set-up and operate drilling rigs and related equipment to drill holes for the mining operation – exploratory, development and operation stages. If you have landed a charge up crew job, then your role can also involve detonating explosives for blast hole drilling.
Whilst there are many types and sub-types of drilling, the two most common are Diamond and Reverse Core drilling.
As the name suggests, Diamond drilling is the most expensive form of drilling as it uses diamond encrusted drill bits. A driller’s offsider here will be loading and unloading the full – up to 30kg – drilling rods, hundreds of times a day. For Reverse Core drilling, the more common type of drilling on a mine, offsider’s will, instead, be ‘running bags’.
Keep on reading to get a deeper explanation of what you can expect when you become a driller in mining.
Key tasks of a driller and a driller’s offsider include:
It’s a demanding job that requires resilience to tough it out in the hot, dusty and cramped conditions. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted. However, it can offer much sought-after rewards; the FIFO lifestyle, the higher than average salaries and global career opportunities for trained drillers.
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What do you need to be mine ready?
Drillers usually start via entry-level positions such as taking a driller’s offsider job, for which you don’t need any formal qualifications. The bare minimum requirements are usually:
Other tickets that may be required are:
Some tickets and, of course, any necessary training is usually provided on-the-job prior to commencing the contract. So, be sure to check with the HR departments or recruiting companies on what is required before applying so as not to sink any cash into un-necessary pre-employment tickets and training.
Once a job has been secured, many driller’s offsiders move to qualify as a driller. Getting a Cert III Drilling qualification takes dedication and commitment, but can open up a host of opportunities both locally and also, globally, in places such as South Africa and Canada and South America.
Conditions are tough, rewards big.
So, with all that said, the heavyweight role of a driller also comes with some heavyweight demands of life on a mine.
One of the most important things to consider is the shift patterns, the most common being FIFO [Fly-In, Fly-Out], where you’ll be flown to site and expected to work a number of weeks ‘on’, usually 2 or 3, followed by 1 or 2 weeks ‘off’.
Then the hours during your stint on-site will be long, 12 hours days, often rotating between day and night shifts, 7 days a week. And, as you’d expect from a remote mining location, conditions on-site are dusty, hot and humid.
A drillers job and drillers offsider are most definitely not your average 9-5 job, that’s for sure. However, if you can hack all that the role will throw at you, then the rewards speak for themselves. From great pay, chances top make some strong, even lifelong friendships, to a miner’s lifestyle to career opportunities, both at home, here in Australia and globally. Drilling is the heartbeat of a mine and without all our drilling hero’s, well, there wouldn’t be a mine.
For more information on a career in mining or the current job vacancies available at Pit N Portal, visit our mining jobs page