Using large hydraulic and diesel machinery and explosives, Yukon underground production miners extract gold, silver, lead, zinc and other minerals from the ground. Development miners provide access, by building underground tunnels and shafts, to further ore reserves.
A Day in the Life
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Underground miners may do some or all of the following tasks:
Operate various types of pneumatic rock drills, often under hazardous conditions
Load holes with dynamite
Load ore or waste rock with scooptrams and underground trucks
Use rock bolts, steel plates and underground timbers to provide ground support
Extend pressurized air and water pipes and ventilation ducts
Build specialized underground chambers for explosives magazines and refuge stations
Build chutes, barricades and platforms
Conduct long-hole test drilling
Operate and maintain mobile drilling and blasting equipment
Operate machinery to cut or channel along the face or seams of ore
Supervise labourers or other team members
Trends and Projections
The future job openings for this type of job are in High demand.
This is a good opportunity for people in rural Yukon as this job is required in most Yukon communities. Earnings in this type of job are close to the average for all workers. The average annual earnings for all workers in this group was $34,100 in 2011.
First Nations Connections
Underground miners work on teams and will have both Yukon First Nation and non-First Nation team members and customers. They will need basic understanding and respect for differences between cultures.
First Nations have been increasingly involved in business activities as land claims are settled. The activities of First Nation development corporations and governments are increasing Yukon economic activity, with economic agreements related to new mineral exploration and mining activities. This provides excellent employment opportunities for First Nations people to be involved in the mining industry at all levels.
Miners need lots of physical stamina, which is why the majority of underground miners are between the ages of 25 and 45 years-old.
Underground miners face safety risks and difficult working conditions in isolated mining camps.
Yukon miners typically work ona contractual basis with mining companies, frequently involving rotating ten-hour shifts, seven days a week. Miners usually work these hours in "blocks" of four to six weeks, and then take one to two weeks off, after which they return to the mine site for another block of work time.
There are no standard education requirements for underground miners, but you must be aged 18 years or older to work in an underground mine in Yukon. Equipment operators are often trained on –the job, particularly as equipment is often unique or adapted to a specific mining environment.
Employers generally prefer to hire applicants who have a high school diploma and experience working in a mine or operating heavy equipment in an industrial environment. A Class 5 driver's licence is usually required. Applicants may be required to pass a medical exam and pre-employment drug-screening test.
Underground production and development miners generally have considerable experience as helpers or labourers in the mining industry before being employed as miners.
The Yukon Mine Training Association and Yukon College offer courses that teach basic employment skills for mining.
Qualified and experienced underground miners can often move into other jobs in underground mining, such as underground service and support occupations. With experience, they can become mining supervisors.
Underground mining opportunities in Yukon are usually in hard-rock mines. Because of differences in technology, experience in hard-rock mining does not necessarily qualify a miner for work in underground coal mining or underground potash, salt or soft-rock mining.
In general, a higher education level means a better chance of getting and keeping a job in these fields. Upgrading and short courses are available at Yukon College campuses throughout the territory and online.