Anyone working underground to mine hard minerals such as ore containing gold, silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, tin, and lead may be exposed to many hazards. The same processes are used for mining hard gems like diamonds. Soft rock miners excavate softer minerals like salt or coal. There are many technical services jobs required underground to support the miners. These positions include surveyors, geologists, engineers, technologists, ventilation technicians, to name a few.
Underground miners may have many roles, including:
- Production - responsible for blasting and moving the ore. These roles may include long hole blasters, narrow vein miners, load haul dump (LHD) (i.e., scoop operators), rock truck drivers, and rock breaker operators.
- Development - advance the drifts (tunnels) based on engineering and geological prints to the ore. These roles may include jumbo operators, rock bolters (mechanized and handheld), scoop operators, and development round loaders.
- Service - maintain and advance mine services such as ventilation, water lines, air lines, backfill or paste lines, restock fuel bays and powder magazines, and pick up scrap materials.
- Construction - build and install ventilation doors, grizzlies (grating over an ore pass or chute), refuge stations, and other underground infrastructure.
- Shaft - inspect and maintain shaft services, or operate the cage to bring workers to various working levels.
- Drillers - either for exploration or production and can include diamond drilling, long hole drilling (up holes and down holes), ITH (in the hole) drilling, raise bore drilling, etc.
- Maintenance - responsible for maintaining, repairing, rebuilding underground equipment.
- Electricians - advance cables for electricity, Wi-Fi, radio communications, and other means of connectivity.
The following hazards are present when anyone is required to work underground.