Underground production and development miners (NOC 8231)

About this job

Underground production and development miners drill, blast, operate mining machinery and perform related duties to extract coal and ore in underground mines and construct mine tunnels, passageways and shafts to facilitate mining operations.

People in this occupation:

  • work for coal, metal and non-metallic mineral underground mines and specialized contractors in mine construction, shaft sinking and tunnelling
  • need mechanical ability, as well as good communication skills
  • need to be independent, adaptable and able to work under pressure
  • must know and stick to safety regulations
  • should be physically fit
Common job titles
  • blaster / blast hole driller
  • blockholer
  • bolter
  • bolter, roof / rockbolter
  • core drill / diamond-drill
  • driller, drift / long-hole / core / shaft

Duties

Underground production and development miners perform some or all of the following duties:

  • set up and operate drills and drilling machines to produce a designated pattern of blasting holes
  • operate diamond drills or other specialized drills such as raise boring machinery to test geological formations or to produce underground passageways
  • set up and operate mining machinery to shear coal, rock or ore from the working face
  • load explosives, set fuses, and detonate explosives to produce desired blasting patterns and rock fragmentation in underground mines
  • operate scooptram, load-haul-dump (LHD) machine or mucking machine to load and haul ore from stopes, drifts and drawpoints to ore passes
  • perform duties required to ensure safety and to support the mining advance, such as scaling loose rock from walls and roof, drilling and installing rock bolts, extending and installing air and water pipes
  • operating ore loading machinery, inspecting mine shafts, operating hoists that transport people, equipment and materials through mine shafts, and constructing timber supports and cribbing if required
  • perform routine maintenance of mining machinery

Work environment

Work in this occupational group can be physically and mentally challenging. Workers spend their work day underground where it is dark and often damp, and much of the work may be done alone with little communication with others.

There are also a number of potential hazards on site, including unstable terrain, large, moving machinery, exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, and loud noises from blasts and machinery. High-level safety standards ensure that work sites stick to strict safety regulations, including requirements of wearing eye and ear protection, protective clothing with reflectors, gloves, hard hats and steel-toed boots. Industry sources report high safety records for these occupations in comparison to the past.

Since mines are often located in remote areas, underground production and development miners may be required to travel and live in camps. However, with many B.C. mines located near communities, workers who live nearby can return home after their shift.

Most work full time and very few workers work part time or are self-employed. Shifts usually last 8–12 hours, and rotating shift work is very common, as mines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Shift length varies by occupation, location and urgency of the job.

Increased mechanized mining methods have reduced reliance on physical work in these occupations.

This occupation provides a competitive salary and benefits, and work is often close to communities where the cost of living is lower than in larger urban centres.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

There are many options to choose from once workers are already employed in this occupation. There is good movement to other underground mining occupations, such as those in underground service and support.

With sufficient experience and training, it is also possible to progress to various supervisory positions.

Additional resources