What does a Miner do?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Coal miners often develop serious health problems.
Coal miners often develop serious health problems.

Miners are valuable members of the work force that engage in the risky but essential task of extracting minerals and other important substances from the earth. The materials that are harvested are used to provide a number of goods and services to the buying public. In some cases, the miner works with highly technical equipment, and in other situations, he might perform his duties with the same simple tools that have been used for centuries.

Large tunnels in a coal mine.
Large tunnels in a coal mine.

Perhaps the most commonly recognized type is the coal miner. Coal mining involves extracting coal from underground mines, a task that is carries a high degree of risk. Historically, few precautions were made to protect these miners safe from physical danger, including respiratory problems. The second half of the 20th century saw a number of reforms in the industry, however, including the addition of protective gear that serves to minimize the chances for ongoing health issues.

When gold is mined, it must be extracted from its surrounding materials.
When gold is mined, it must be extracted from its surrounding materials.

Mining in general is a dangerous profession. Much of the actual work takes place in the mines, where there is always the chance of exposure to underground gases, shaft failures, and other dangers. Part of the training process for a miner today includes working with life saving equipment, as well as learning how to deal with emergency situations that arise in the mines from time to time.

Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.
Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.

For many years, there was no formal training for the new miner. Instead, all that was required was a strong constitution and a willingness to work long hours. Over time, many mining companies have created training sessions that help to provide the new hire with some basic information about mining techniques and procedures, as they apply to the type of mining conducted by the company. Mentoring programs are also a common part of the first several months of the worker’s work experience. Pairing a novice with an experienced miner has proven to be a successful strategy, as it allows for the orderly transfer of knowledge from one individual to another.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon187932

My prayers goes out to the families of these miners. I also must say that the wives of these men are to be commended.

anon184801

I am a career miner and the mining industry is much safer than it has ever been. Most of the mining companies have safety policies that are above and beyond what MSHA requires, and actually 90 percent of all underground miners don't like MSHA and believe they are killing the mining industry. If I was to follow every rule in their book i would never get anything done. Just like any governing agency, they have been given an inch and took several miles and more importantly, have forgotten why they were created and what their purpose is.

FrogFriend

The only problem with relying on private organizations to provide proper safety precautions for their workers is that they are out to make a profit, not to look out for the safety of the people that make their profit.

Like any capitalistic organization, the mining company will try and maximize profits and if that means cutting back on safety equipment or reducing the quality of the safety equipment and choosing a cheaper model, they will do just that to save the extra buck.

I think that it is good we have regulations in place to help cut back on the safety violations, but the truth is that inspectors find problems all the time with the way the minds of being operated. There is both corruption as well as general neglect the safety of these very important workers.

IceCarver

Something else to consider when thinking about the safety of the mining industry, is the advancements in technology for the ability to rescue miners from the bottom of a collapsed mine. Advanced drilling technology and technique has come a long way in the past few decades and while there are still tragedies in the mining industry many more people have been saved recently because of these technological advancements.

I think it will be impossible to ever completely eliminates the safety risks that are apparent with mineral mining, but I do think there is a great deal of work we can do to avoid tragedies and the families of these miners losing the men they love.

jeancastle00

@thumbtack,while I appreciate your concern for the safety of these hard-working individuals in this very dangerous industry, there have been many advancements in the past decades have increased significantly the amount of safety features available for miner.

Often, mining companies are installing safety shelters at the bottoms of their minds in case of a collapse. The shelters are capable of supporting a whole shift of miners in that area for several weeks. While this may not be a fun experience for the miners, it can mean the difference between life and death.

thumbtack

The saddest part about a miner's line of work is the fact that they face danger every single time they go to work. Operations such as gold, coal, and other precious mineral mining are extremely dangerous and have killed many people in the history of this industry.

The greatest concern that I have for this workforce is that they are not being properly taking care of and the safety measures are in adequate for the risk that is being taken.

frankjoseph

Do gold miners also work deep underground like most other miners? Or do most gold miners mine gold above ground out of quartz or something?

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    • Coal miners often develop serious health problems.
      Coal miners often develop serious health problems.
    • Large tunnels in a coal mine.
      Large tunnels in a coal mine.
    • When gold is mined, it must be extracted from its surrounding materials.
      When gold is mined, it must be extracted from its surrounding materials.
    • Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.
      Most miners wear face protection, which may include a respirator.
    • Most mining takes place underground, where workers may face dangerous conditions.
      Most mining takes place underground, where workers may face dangerous conditions.
    • Miners must be physically fit to endure labor requirements.
      Miners must be physically fit to endure labor requirements.