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Overview

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

The Metalliferous Mining sector includes both the surface and underground mining of iron ore, copper, tin, nickel, gold, silver and zinc.  The sector boomed between 2007 and 2014, and it is estimated that the sector was worth $61.1 billion to the Australian economy in 2015.  Due to the different metals mined within the sector a variety of skills and equipment are required to mine each resource effectively.

Vocational education and training (VET) is required for Metalliferous Mining sector related occupations such as:

  • Drillers and Miners and Shot Firers.

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

For more information on Coal MiningExtractive Industries, Civil Infrastructure, 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 Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The mining boom saw the employment level in the Metal Ore Mining industry increase significantly between 2000 and 2012. The post boom years have seen the industry employment level decline between 2012 and 2016, however there was an increase in 2017 with a further rise projected over the next five years.

Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers make up 19% of the Metal Ore Mining industry workforce with the employment level in this occupation expected to increase over the next five years.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 850 enrolments in Metalliferous Mining sector qualifications during 2016 and over 200 completions.  Enrolments decreased between 2014 and 2016, however the number of completions has increased significantly over the same period.  The majority of training is in the Certificates II and III in Underground Metalliferous Mining qualifications.

The main intended occupation for the training is Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers.

During 2016 over 85% of the qualifications were delivered by private training providers, with TAFE Institutes making up the majority of the remaining portion.  A large portion of the training was funded by domestic fee for service, with government funding making up the rest.  Over half of students enrolled were from Western Australia, and just under a fifth came from Queensland.

In 2016, there were 419 apprenticeship commencements and 336 apprenticeship completions.  Both commencements and completions have increased between 2014 and 2016.  As at December 2016, over 80% of training was in Western Australia.  Apprentices were training towards the intended occupation of Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers.

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

Infographic title: Priority skills: 2017 skills forecast,, Infographic data,, Title: Top priority skills,, technical capability including production skills and plant operation, leadership and management, information technology and technological change, foundation skills / language literacy and numeracy, workplace safety and compliance,, Title: Top generic skills,, managerial / leadership, technology, design mindset / thinking critically / system thinking / solving problems, data analysis, learning agility / information literacy / intellectual autonomy and self-management,, Infographic title: Skills and occupations in demand: job vacancies,, Title: Top 5 generic skills in demand,, communication skills, planning, computer skills, problem solving, team work / collaboration,, Title: Top 5 occupations in demand,, maintenance planner, technicians and trade workers (not elsewhere classified), electricians (general), motor mechanic (general), truck driver (general),, Title: Top 5 locations,, Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Northern Territory,, Title: Top employers,, B H P Billiton, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Anglo American,, Infographic source, Priority skills source: Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017, Job vacancy occupations in demand source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight Real Time Labor Market Information tool

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work the top priority skills in the Metalliferous Mining sector are:

  • technical capability including production skills and plant operation
  • leadership and management
  • information technology and technological change
  • foundation skills/language, literacy and numeracy
  • workplace safety and compliance.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were communication and planning.  The most advertised occupation in the Metalliferous Mining industry sector was Maintenance Planner and the top locations were Western Australia and Queensland.

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work identifies a number of key issues affecting job demand and skills needs within the Metalliferous Mining Sector:

  • Employment in the sector is prone to cyclical trends especially in precious metals such as gold or silver.  However the continuing urbanisation of China, requiring large amounts of steel, is expected to sustain demand for metalliferous miners (especially copper and iron) over coming years.
  • There is a policy push towards renewable energy products in India and China.  Steel (iron), copper and aluminium are used extensively in the construction of wind turbines and solar panels sustaining demand for these resources.  This trend is likely to increase demand for iron ore, copper and aluminium miners.
  • Since the mining boom peaked there has been a shift in focus toward productivity and efficiency gains in the Metalliferous 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.  This continuing trend will require digital, analytical and software skills to better capture and understand data and where efficiencies can be achieved.
  • Competition from international metalliferous mining operations has increased pressure on Australian miners to keep a low relative cost per unit of production.  The resulting drive for production efficiency through technological changes and automation is expected to decrease demand for low skilled labour within the sector.

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

Links and resources

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:
    • 08 Metal Ore 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:
    • 08 Metal Ore Mining.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2011 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by:
    • 08 Metal Ore 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 and Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • RII - Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package
    • RII20409 - Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII20413 - Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII20415 - Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII30309 - Certificate III in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII30311 - Certificate III in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII30313 - Certificate III in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII30315 - Certificate III in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII40309 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • RII40311 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • RII40313 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • RII40315 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • RII60109 - Advanced Diploma of Metalliferous Mining
    • RII60113 - Advanced Diploma of Metalliferous Mining
  • MNM - Metalliferous Mining Training Package
    • MNM20103 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut)
    • MNM20106 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut)
    • MNM20105 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Open Cut
    • MNM20199 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut)
    • MNM20203 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • MNM20205 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Underground
    • MNM20206 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • MNM20299 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • MNM20303 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Processing)
    • MNM20305 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Processing
    • MNM20306 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Processing)
    • MNM20399 - Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Processing)
    • MNM30103 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut)
    • MNM30105 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Open Cut
    • MNM30106 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut)
    • MNM30199 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut)
    • MNM30203 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • MNM30205 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Underground
    • MNM30206 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • MNM30299 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • MNM30303 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Processing)
    • MNM30305 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Processing
    • MNM30399 - Certificate III in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Processing)
    • MNM40105 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Open Cut
    • MNM40205 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Underground
    • MNM40299 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Underground)
    • MNM40305 - Certificate IV in Metalliferous Mining Operations - Processing
    • MNM50299 - Diploma of Metalliferous Mining (Open Cut and Underground).

      Superseded qualifications and training packages are grouped with current training products.

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

  • 2014, 2015, 2016 program enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 subject enrolments
  • 2014, 2015, 2016 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. 

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.  This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

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

  • 2010 to 2016 commencements
  • 2010 to 2016 completions 
  • 2016 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2016 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work.

Burning Glass Technologies: Labour Insight – real-time labour market information tool. <http://www.burning-glass.com>. 2017.

  • Job advertisements from all of Australia from January 2014 to August 2017 are included in the analysis.  Data shown is the top five advertised VET-related occupations (1–6 digit level Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers and Machinery Operators and Drivers) in the Metal Ore Mining sector and the top five locations and employers according to job advertisements.
  • Skills data has also been extracted from the Burning Glass Labour Insights job vacancy data tool.  Data shown is the proportion of job advertisements which request generic skills for VET-related occupations (1–6 digit level Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers and Machinery Operators and Drivers) in the Metal Ore Mining sector.
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