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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.

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

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level in the Coal Mining sector increased nearly threefold over the period from 2001 until 2012. Over the following nine years, despite some fluctuations, employment levels have declined overall. The employment level is projected to increase from 43,000 in 2021 to around 67,500 by 2025.

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 around 6% until 2025. 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 5% and 4% respectively.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 2,270 enrolments in Coal Mining-related qualifications during 2020, a decrease on the previous year where there were roughly 2,390 enrolments. Completions increased slightly between 2019 and 2020, with approximately 230 and 250 completions respectively.

During 2020, the majority of enrolments (55%) were in Certificates II & III & IV in Underground Coal Mining/Operations, which had the intended occupations of Miner or Mine Deputy. Most of the remaining portion (39%) 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 2020, most of the training was delivered by private training providers (98%) and most subjects (83%) were funded via domestic fee for service arrangements.

Students who enrolled in 2020 were mainly from Queensland (70%) and New South Wales (22%). The majority of training was delivered in Queensland (79%), followed by New South Wales (21%).

There were approximately 30 apprenticeship and traineeship commencements in 2020, a sharp decrease from around 110 in 2019. Apprenticeship and traineeship completions have also declined sharply, with 100 in 2019 and roughly 60 in 2020. Apprentices or trainees in this sector have an intended occupation of Miner. Queensland reported 64% of apprenticeship and traineeship training, with the remaining 36% reported by New South Wales.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry group or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

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 Metal Fitters and Machinists. The top employers for workers in this industry were Peabody Energy Corporation and Whitehaven Coal.

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 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.

Project 2D Coal Mining, discussed in the Skills Forecast, aims to address the key issues of ongoing health and safety challenges and technological change affecting the coal mining industry, and to clarify and strengthen career progression pathways for underground and open cut coal mining workers by updating the underground and open cut coal mining qualifications and units of competency. The Case for Endorsement submitted in March 2020 shows the training product changes are:

  • Seven qualifications were updated to clarify and strengthen career progression pathways for entry level workers through to mine managers and mining engineering managers across underground and open cut coal mining operations.
  • 56 units of competency used across underground and open cut coal mining operations were updated to reflect current industry processes and requirements and clarify training outcomes

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.

IRC and skills forecasts

Coal Mining IRC

 

Relevant research

Case for Endorsement: 1L Blasting Methods, 1N Geotechnical Risks in Quarries, 1O Construction Materials Testing, 2B Common Skills, 2C/2G Drilling and Exploration, 2D Coal Mining – PwC’s Skills for Australia (document can be found under Release heading)

 

Regulators

Australasian Explosives Industry and Safety Group (AEISG)

Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade – Mining and Energy

NSW Government Resources Regulator

Queensland Department of Natural Resources

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

WorkSafe 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 Resources and Energy Group (AMMA)

Coal Services

Mine Managers Association of Australia (MMAA)

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)

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

NSW Mining and Petroleum Competence Board

Queensland Coal Mining Safety and Health Advisory Committee (CMSHAC)

 

State training advisory bodies

Building, Construction, Resources and Infrastructure Training Advisory Body (BCRITAB) (NSW)

Energy Skills Queensland (ESQ)

Industry Skills Advisory Council Northern Territory (ISAC NT)

Resources Industry Training Council (RITCWA)

 

Employee associations

Australian Workers' Union (AWU)

Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU).

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal website

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit industry, employment projections to May 2025
    • 06 Coal Mining.
  • by ANZSCO, selected 4 digit occupations, employment projections to May 2025:
    • 7122 Drillers Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit '06 Coal Mining', 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.

 

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
    • RII20320 – 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
    • RII30220 – 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
    • RII40420 – 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)
    • RII40220 – 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
    • RII50920 – 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
    • RII60320 – 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
    • RII60720 – 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:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 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:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements.
Updated: 25 Oct 2021
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