Miners work underground and are involved in the supervision of the processes of drilling, blasting and rock clearing in order to extract minerals. The ore is moved to the surface by means of rails and hoisting apparatus. Large earth-moving machines and ore carriers are used to remove minerals on the surface at opencast mines.
Mining assistants perform a variety of duties underground in mines as well as on the surface.
Each miner is usually in charge of about 40 mineworkers. They have to plan and organise their work and are also responsible for their safety. The mineworkers load the materials onto mine cars or conveyors, and install timber, roof bolts or cribs to support the walls and roofs of mines. Some miners open up passageways, air vents, auxiliary tunnels, rooms and shafts.
Miners are sometimes exposed to demanding working conditions. In deep level underground mining, certain areas of the mine could be humid, cold or hot. The breaking of rock and moving of ore is a noisy operation. Underground workers may be required to work in excavations in which working and environmental conditions range from one extreme to the other. Miners may specialise according to the type of mine they work in, such as a gold mine, iron mine, platinum mine, asbestos mine, diamond mine or coal mine.
Mining assistants may erect and dismantle scaffolding at a construction site on the mine; collect waste material; help with the laying of pipes and cables; do bricklaying; transport materials and equipment to and from the workplace; load and unload crates; install, maintain and dispatch mechanical and electrical machinery under the supervision of trained operators; or maintain the premises and gardens of the mine.