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Overview

This page provides information and data on the Coal Mining sector, which is a component of the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure industry.

The Coal Mining sector includes both open cut and underground coal mining with black coal reserves concentrated in New South Wales and Queensland; and confirmed brown coal reserves located in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria. In 2009, the value of the Coal Mining sector to the Australian economy was $38.2 billion per annum; however, this figure decreased to $16.1 billion by 2016. The Coal Mining sector is dominated by large organisations reflecting the significant investment costs required to maintain a viable operation within the sector.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required for a range of Coal Mining sector related occupations such as:

  • Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers
  • Other Building and Engineering Technicians
  • Safety Inspectors.

Nationally recognised training for Coal Mining is delivered under the RII - Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package.

For more information on Civil Infrastructure, Drilling, Extractive Industries and Metalliferous Mining sectors, please visit the respective pages. For information and data on training qualifications that apply to multiple sectors within the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure industry please visit the Resources and Infrastructure Cross Sector page.

Information sourced from the most recently available Skills Forecast, the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Coal Mining IRC

Employment trends

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment snapshot

The employment level in the Coal Mining sector increased more than threefold over the period from 2000 until 2012. Over the following eight years, despite some fluctuations, employment levels have declined overall. However, the employment level is projected to increase from 52,700 in 2020 to around 58,300 by 2024.

Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers make up 32% of the Coal Mining industry sector workforce. The employment level in this occupation is projected to increase by nearly 10% until 2024. The other two vet-related occupations in this sector, Metal Fitters and Machinists and Other Building and Engineering Technicians are also projected to increase, by around 4% and 15% respectively.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 2,390 enrolments in Coal Mining related qualifications during 2019, an increase on the previous year where there were roughly 2,300 enrolments. Completions remained stable between 2018 and 2019, with approximately 220 completions in each year.

During 2019, the majority of enrolments (56%) were in the Certificates II & III & IV in Underground Coal Mining/Operations, which had the intended occupations of Miner or Mine Deputy. Most of the remaining portion (40%) were enrolled in the Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (Open Cut Examiner), with the intended occupations of either Safety Inspector or Mine Deputy.

For enrolments during 2019, most of the training was delivered by private training providers (96%) and most subjects (72%) were funded via domestic fee for service arrangements. About 67% of students who enrolled during 2019 resided in Queensland and 24% in New South Wales.

Most of the training was delivered in Queensland (77%), with New South Wales making up the remaining 23%.

Apprenticeship and traineeship commencements were fairly stable between 2018 and 2019, with roughly the same number of commencements in each year. There were approximately 100 completions in 2019, a sharp increase from around 20 in 2018. As at December 2019, 60% of apprenticeship and traineeship training was recorded in New South Wales and 40% in Queensland. All (100%) apprentices and trainees were training towards the intended occupation of Miner.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast identifies the top priority skills for the Coal Mining sector as:

  • Digital literacy
  • Workplace safety practices
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving
  • Environmental sustainability.

The top generic skills listed in the Skills Forecast in order of importance to the industry are:

  • Managerial/Leadership
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Technology.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were planning and communication. The most advertised occupations in the Coal Mining sector were Other Miscellaneous Labourers and Other Building and Engineering Technicians. The top employers for workers in this industry were Peabody Energy Corporation and Whitehaven Coal.

The Skills Forecast identifies several key issues affecting skills and training needs within the Coal Mining Sector:

  • Clarify career progression pathways, provide greater support to develop managerial skills for leadership roles and include more transferable skills in the training products for coal mining workers
  • The impact of new technologies on ways of working in the coal mining industry, particularly automated programming, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, drones and other satellite drive technologies.
  • An increased safety focus among regulators and heightened awareness by firms in the sector of a social licence to operate.

For insights on the broader Resources industry, please visit the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure cluster page.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

 

Relevant research

Future of Work: The Economic Implications of Technology and Digital Mining – Ernst & Young Australia

The Future of Work: The Changing Skills Landscape for Miners – Ernst & Young Australia

 

Regulators

Australian Explosives Industry and Safety Group (AEISG)

Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry & Resources

NSW Department of Industry - Resources Regulator

Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy

South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA)

Tasmanian Department of State Growth

Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

 

Safety regulators

Access Canberra

NT WorkSafe

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork SA

SafeWork NSW

WorkCover Queensland

WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Victoria

WorkSafe Western Australia

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

For industry associations and advisory bodies specific to Civil Infrastructure, Drilling, Extractive Industries and Metalliferous Mining sectors, please visit the respective pages.

 

Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA)

Australian Mining Association (AMA)

Coal Services

Mine Managers Association of Australia (MMAA)

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)

Mining, Equipment, Technology and Services Growth Centre (METS Ignited)

Mines Rescue

NSW Mining and Petroleum Competence Board

Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee (CMSHAC)

 

State training advisory bodies

Energy Skills Queensland (ESQ)

Industry Skills Advisory Council Northern Territory (ISAC NT)

Resources Industry Training Council (RITCWA)

Resources and Infrastructure NSW Industry Training Advisory Body

 

Employee associations

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU).

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal website

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit industry, employment projections to May 2024
    • 06 Coal Mining.
  • by ANZSCO, selected 4 digit occupations, employment projections to May 2024:
    • 7122 Drillers Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ06, viewed 1 August 2020 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202020?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit industry, 2000 to 2020, May Quarter
    • 06 Coal Mining.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by:
    • 06 Coal Mining industry
    • 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

RII - Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package:

  • Certificate II & III & IV in Underground Coal Mining / Operations
    • RII20309 - Certificate II in Underground Coal Mining
    • RII20313 - Certificate II in Underground Coal Mining
    • RII20315 - Certificate II in Underground Coal Mining
    • RII30209 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII30212 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII30213 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII30215 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII30218 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII40409 - Certificate IV in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII40411 - Certificate IV in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII40412 - Certificate IV in Underground Coal Operations.
    • RII40413 - Certificate IV in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII40415 - Certificate IV in Underground Coal Operations.
  • Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (Open Cut Examiner)
    • RII40209 - Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (Open Cut Examiner)
    • RII40212 - Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (Open Cut Examiner)
    • RII40213 - Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (Open Cut Examiner)
    • RII40215 - Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (Open Cut Examiner).
  • Diploma & Advanced Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII50909 - Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII50912 - Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII50913 - Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII50915 - Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII60309 - Advanced Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII60312 - Advanced Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII60313 - Advanced Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management
    • RII60315 - Advanced Diploma of Underground Coal Mining Management.
  • Advanced Diploma of Surface Coal Mining Management
    • RII60709 - Advanced Diploma of Surface Coal Mining Management
    • RII60713 - Advanced Diploma of Surface Coal Mining Management
    • RII60715 - Advanced Diploma of Surface Coal Mining Management.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

RII Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2019 commencements
  • 2010 to 2019 completions 
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2019 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Generic skills data have been extracted from the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2020, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2020, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2017 and June 2020 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • Machinery Operators and Drivers, Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers
    • 06 Coal Mining.
  • Employers
    • 8999 Other Miscellaneous Labourers
    • 7122 Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3411 Electricians
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 06 Coal Mining.
Updated: 30 Nov 2020
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