Miner and Mining Assistant

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.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 10 Certificate.
For advancement to managerial positions, a National Senior Certificate is necessary

Mining assistant - no specific requirements.

What to Study

In-service training to obtain a Permanent Blasting Certificate:

Duration of course: 12 months. Content of course: Rock-Breaking; People Management; Safety and Health Education; Productivity and Cost Effectiveness; Communication Skills.

Matriculants start as student-officials (mining) and receive training at the training colleges of mining groups. A learner can take one of three courses. Promising learners can apply for bursaries for full-time study at a university to become engineers. Others can take a university of technology diploma course involving 6 months’ full time study per year for 4 years, to be appointed as mine officials starting at shift boss level, or can take a practical mining course over 2 to 3 years to become shift bosses. Applicants may be considered for training with only Grade 11.

All student officials receive training to obtain blasting certificates. They have to obtain certificates of competency to be appointed to more senior positions such as mine overseers, underground managers and higher, for advancement to managerial positions.

Further qualifications, such as a Mine Overseer’s Certificate of Competency can be obtained, once a miner has been a shift overseer for a few years.

The mining assistant receives training on the job. Work experience is gained over a period of time.


  • mining companies
  • mining contractors
  • self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can open own mine

Further Information

The S A Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
P O Box 61127
Marshalltown, 2107
Tel: (011) 834-1273/7 Fax: (011) 838-5923

Human Resources Department
AVMIN Limited
P O Box 62379
Marshalltown, 2107

The Senior Personnel Officer - Sourcing
Gold Fields Trust
Private Bag X11
Westonaria, 1780

The Head of Training
Chamber of Mines
P O Box 61809
Marshalltown, 2107
Tel. (011) 498-7100

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work with a mining company
  • arrange to speak to miners or mining assistants to get more information about this occupation, and ask permission to observe them at work

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