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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. For the purposes of grouping types of mines by sectors, Metalliferous Mining also includes the mining of gemstone, uranium and mineral sands. There are over 60 major employers in the sector each employing over 200 people. It is estimated that the sector was worth $53 billion to the Australian economy in 2016. 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, Miners and Shot Firers.
  • Miner
  • Backhoe Operator.

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

For more information on Civil Infrastructure, Coal Mining, Drilling and Extractive Industries 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 mining boom saw the employment level in the Metal Ore Mining industry increase significantly between 2000 and 2012. The post boom years saw the industry employment level decline between 2012 and 2016. Following a rise in 2017, employment levels in this industry sector fluctuated but have risen overall to around 122,300 in 2021 and are projected to decrease to 110,600 by 2025.

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 by around 6% until 2025. Metal Fitters and Machinists and Other Building and Engineering Technicians, with around 11% and 6% of the industry sector workforce, are projected to increase by approximately 5% and 4% respectively.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were approximately 540 program enrolments in Metalliferous Mining-related qualifications during 2020 and around 110 completions. Program enrolments remained steady between 2019 and 2020 following a substantial decrease by over half between 2018 and 2019. Program completions in 2019 also decreased substantially on the previous year, from roughly 610 to around 130.

The majority of enrolments during 2020 were in the Certificate III in Underground Metalliferous Mining (53%), with 40% in the Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining. The intended occupation at the certificate II and III levels was Miner.

In 2020, roughly 95% of enrolments were with private training providers, with 100% of training at the certificate II level also delivered by private training providers. Over 67% of subjects were funded by domestic fee for service, with Commonwealth and state funding (33%) making up the rest.

Just over 38% of students who enrolled during 2020 resided in New South Wales, with 34% in Western Australia and 14% in Queensland. Nearly 46% of all training was delivered in Western Australia, followed by New South Wales (37%) and Queensland (9%).

There were approximately 940 apprenticeship and traineeship commencements in 2020, an increase on the previous year when there were about 910. There were roughly 600 apprenticeship and traineeship completions during 2020, which was a decrease on the 630 completions in the previous year. All (100%) apprentices and trainees were training towards the intended occupation of Miner. Western Australia reported 73% of apprenticeship and traineeship training, with 11% reported by New South Wales and 7% by South Australia.

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 most important generic workforce skill priorities for the Metalliferous Mining sector as:

  • Technology
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Managerial/Leadership
  • Data analysis.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were communication and planning. The most advertised occupations in the Metalliferous Mining sector were Other Building and Engineering Technicians and Other Miscellaneous Labourers. The top employers for workers in this industry were Rio Tinto and Glencore.

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast identifies several key issues affecting skills and training needs within the Metalliferous Mining Sector including:

  • In response to incidents of tailings dam failures, there is increased safety awareness in mining companies and regulators have issued new standards for management of tailings storage facilities. The competencies on tailings dams required by metalliferous mining operators, managers and specialist technicians need to be updated.
  • New competencies are needed on remote operating centres, remote vehicle operations, autonomous vehicles and drones within metalliferous mining-related qualifications.
  • Improve the alignment of training standards to current job roles and responsibilities in the sector, which would allow learners to specialise in specific metalliferous roles and promote clearer career pathways.

The Case for Endorsement for Project 3B: Metalliferous mining, addressing the key issues discussed in the 2019 Skills Forecast, was approved at the December 2020 AISC meeting. The changes to the training products are:

  • Three qualifications, RII30615 Certificate III in Small Mining Operations, RII50215 Diploma of Underground Metalliferous Mining Management and RII50315 Diploma of Minerals Processing have been deleted due to identified low industry use and relevance.
  • Four units of competency relating to tailings dam operations to reflect current industry standards and practices for health, safety and environmental risk management have been updated.
  • Six units of competency relating to small mining operations have been deleted due to identified low industry use and relevance.
  • Five new units of competency have been created to address skills and training product gaps for operators and supervisors transporting, handling, applying, and storing polymeric chemicals in underground environments.
  • Seven qualifications have been updated to clarify and strengthen career progression pathways workers in underground and open cut metalliferous mining and resources processing, from entry-level through to management, and include the addition of specialisation streams for specialist job roles in underground metalliferous mining.

The Case for Endorsement also includes Project 1H New and Emerging Technology. The training product changes as a result of this project are eight new units of competency have been created to address skills and training product gaps in relation to new and emerging technology in the resources and infrastructure sector, including autonomous mining systems and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

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

Metalliferous Mining IRC

 

Relevant research

Case for Endorsement: 1H New and Emerging Technology, 3B Metalliferous Mining, 3C Extractive – PwC’s Skills for Australia (document can be found under Release heading)

 

Regulatorory bodies

Australasian Explosives Industry and Safety Group (AEISG)

NSW Government Resources Regulator

Northern Territory Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security

Queensland Department of 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, Coal Mining, Drilling and Extractive Industries sectors, please visit the respective pages.

Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA)

Mine Managers Association of Australia (MMAA)

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

Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)

NSW Mining and Petroleum Competence Board

 

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 Manufacturers Workers’ Union (AMWU)

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.

  • Employment projections to May 2025, by ANZSIC 2 digit industry:
    • 08 Metal Ore 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 '08 Metal Ore 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:
    • 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, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

RII Resources and Infrastructure Industry and MNM Metalliferous Mining Training Packages:

  • Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII20409 – Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII20413 – Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII20415 – Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • RII20420 – Certificate II in Underground Metalliferous Mining
    • MNM20106 – Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining Operations (Open Cut).
  • Certificate III 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
    • RII30320 – Certificate III in Underground Metalliferous Mining.
  • 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)
    • RII40320 – Certificate IV in Underground Metalliferous Mining Operations.
  • Advanced Diploma of Metalliferous Mining
    • RII60109 – Advanced Diploma of Metalliferous Mining
    • RII60113 – Advanced Diploma of Metalliferous Mining
    • RII60115 – Advanced Diploma of Metalliferous Mining
    • RII60120 – Advanced Diploma of Metalliferous Mining.

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:

  • 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 and MNM Metalliferous Mining Training Packages  apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

 

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • Machinery Operators and Drivers, Technicians and Trades Workers, Labourers
    • 08 Metal Ore Mining.
  • Employers
    • 3129 Other Building and Engineering Technicians
    • 8999 Other Miscellaneous Labourers
    • 7122 Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers
    • 3999 Other Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers
    • 3232 Metal Fitters and Machinists
    • 08 Metal Ore Mining.
Updated: 26 Oct 2021
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