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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, Extractive Industries, Metalliferous Mining, and Drilling 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 Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level in the Coal Mining sector increased more than threefold over the period from 2000 until 2012. Over the following five years, despite some fluctuations, employment levels have declined overall. The employment level for the sector is projected to decrease further between 2017 and 2022.

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 further until 2022.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 2,000 enrolments in Coal Mining related qualifications during 2017, a decrease on the previous year, and well below the level seen during 2014. Completions on the other hand, increased substantially on the prior year to just under 300, reversing the downward trend that occurred between 2014 and 2016. 

During 2017, the majority of enrolments were in either 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 were enrolled in the Certificate IV in Surface Coal Mining (Open Cut Examiner), with the intended occupations of either Mine Deputy; or Safety Inspector.

For enrolments during 2017, most training was delivered by private training providers and the majority of subjects were funded via domestic fee for service arrangements. Over 40% of students who enrolled during 2017 were from Queensland.

There were 113 apprenticeship commencements during 2017, continuing the upward trend since reaching a nadir in 2015. However, completions continued their decline, from 532 during 2010 to 17 in 2017. As at December 2017, all apprentices in training were enrolled in the Certificate II in Underground Coal Mining, with the intended occupation of Miner. Most apprenticeship activity was recorded in New South Wales.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry.

For more data specific to your region, visit NCVER’s Atlas of total VET. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

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 2018 Skills Forecast, identifies the most important generic workforce skill priorities for the Coal Mining sector as:

  • managerial/leadership
  • design mindset/thinking critically/system thinking/solving problems
  • language, literacy and numeracy
  • data analysis
  • communication/collaborating virtually including virtual collaboration/social intelligence.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were planning and communication. The most advertised occupation in the Coal Mining sector was Miscellaneous Labourer (Other).

The Skills Forecast 2018, identifies a number of key issues affecting job demand, and skills needs within the Coal Mining Sector:

  • Demand for coking coal as a steel making ingredient is expected to increase due to the continuing urbanisation of China and the Asia region, leading to a sustained demand for coking coal miners.
  • Future demand for thermal coal is expected to decrease as China and the Asia region looks to develop renewable energies, this in turn will likely reduce demand for thermal coal miners.
  • Since the mining boom peaked, there has been a shift in focus towards productivity and efficiency gains in the Coal Mining sector. The focus on productivity, has led to an increased uptake of technology and automation within the sector, reducing demand for low-skilled labour. The move towards remote operations centres in the sector has increased the need for skills in interpreting data from machines.

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

Links and resources

Regulators

Access Canberra

Australian Explosives Industry and Safety Group (AEISG)

Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry & Resources

NSW Department of Industry - Resources Regulator

NT WorkSafe

Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork SA

SafeWork NSW

South Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA)

Tasmanian Department of State Growth

Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

WorkCover Queensland

WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Victoria

Worksafe WA - Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

Industry associations and advisory bodies

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

Construction Industry Training Board (SA)

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)

Relevant research

SkillsDMC Resources and infrastructure: industry workforce analysis and forecast

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal website :

  • employment projections to May 2022, by ANZSIC 2 digit industry:
    • 06 Coal Mining.
  • by ANZSCO, selected 4 digit occupations, employment projections to May 2022:
    • 7122 Drillers Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 – EQ06, viewed 1 September 2017 <http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202017?OpenDocument>.

  • Employed total, 2000 to 2017, May quarter, by ANZSIC 2 digit industry:
    • 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
    • RII30213 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII30215 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII30209 - Certificate III in Underground Coal Operations
    • RII30212 - 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:

  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 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 2017 commencements
  • 2010 to 2017 completions 
  • 2017 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2017 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 2018 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Labourers, Machinery Operators and Drivers, Technicians and Trades Workers
  • 06 Coal Mining.
Updated: 17 Dec 2018
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