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Coal miner Coal worker, opencast miner

Coal miners operate the machinery that extracts coal and other minerals from opencast or surface mines.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 36 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements. Experience in construction labouring or operating plant machinery would be useful.

You’ll need a valid Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card if you operate machinery, although a company may take you on and train you on the job.  

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

You’re likely to need your own transport to get to opencast sites.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • practical skills
  • communication skills
  • the ability to follow work instructions

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • operating heavy plant machinery like excavators, cranes and crushers
  • setting up and using drilling equipment
  • directing crane and excavator drivers
  • helping surveyors and geologists take mineral samples
  • moving loads around the site using cranes, tippers and dumper trucks
  • carrying out basic maintenance on vehicles and machinery
  • setting and detonating explosives ('shotfiring')

4. Salary

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work between 36 and 40 hours a week, on a shift pattern.

The job is physically demanding and you’ll be working in all weathers. You employer will supply you with safety equipment.

6. Career path and progression

With experience and training, you could move into specialist jobs like shotfiring, safety inspection or site supervision.

You could also become a minerals surveyor or mining engineer by completing higher education qualifications.

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Last updated: 08 December 2016