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Mining Machine Operators

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This is a Demand OccupationA Demand Occupation is defined as follows.

The hierarchy for qualification is the Regional Demand
(the occupation had a entry wage equal to or greater
than 90% of the Economic Development Region (EDR) negotiated
wage as an average of all LWIA’s in the EDR AND at
least 25 annual average job openings in the EDR);
State Wide (the occupation qualified for at least
5 of the Regional Demands and thus was added to all
ten EDR lists); Career Cluster (the occupation is
listed on at least one of the six career clusters
Illinois has identified as priority [data is available
under the career clusters on the The National
Association of State Directors of Career Technical
Education Consortium website at ]), and Regional
Request (an LWIA received approval of a request to
add an occupation code to its EDR list based on substantiative
data and information supporting a need in the region).
NOTE: Only those occupations with a Source of Regional
Demand or State Wide will be eligible for incentive
bonus award under the Minimum Training Expenditure
policy requirements.

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Mining Machine Operators - Occupation Overview

  • Run machines that extract a variety of minerals
  • Underground mining is being phased out
  • Work outdoors
  • Often wear safety gear, especially hard hats
  • May work evening or night shifts
  • Train on the job
  • Most work in the coal mining industry
  • Earn $47,728 - $50,696 per year (Illinois median)
  • Earn $47,950 - $51,950 per year (national median)

Mining machine operators control machines that extract coal, ore, stone, and sand from mines or quarries.

Mining is the process of extracting natural minerals from the earth. There are two types of mining: surface mining and underground mining. The type of mine depends on how deep the minerals are under the earth's surface. Both mine cutting and channeling machine operators and continuous mining machine operators work in each type of mine to extract minerals.

Cutting machine operators cut a strip under the mineral seam to control where the ore will fall. They use a huge electric chain saw, with a blade from six to 15 feet long, to cut the strip, or "kerf." Channeling machine operators drill holes in the ore where workers place explosives. This process is very dangerous and is being phased out.

Continuous mining eliminates the drilling and blasting of conventional mining. It uses a machine called the continuous miner. Continuous mining machine operators sit or lie in the machine's cab. They operate levers that control the ripper bars that cut or rip minerals out of the mine face. The same machine can load the ore directly onto a conveyor or shuttle car. Some of these machines can be operated by remote control, which increases safety.

Both types of mining machine operators must observe the operation of their equipment. They listen to the mining sounds to be sure the equipment is operating properly. Most operators repair and adjust their machines. They lubricate them and replace broken or worn parts.


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