When most people think of mines, they picture the old coal mines of black and white movies, when many things were still being conducted in a fairly un-technological way. Nowadays, there are electrical systems that run through these mines providing lights, power sources for power tools, and electronic machines that raise and lower people into the mine. So a modern mining electrician will do many of the same tasks as those who completed electrician training. They study blueprints, install electrical systems, run efficiency checks on those systems, and repair broken or malfunctioning electrical components.
Of course there are a few differences, this is a specialization after all. The mining electrician will have to learn about new types of electrical equipment that may be specific for underground work. Generators, motors, and commercial-sized batteries are components that a mining electrician will deal with regularly. Because mining is such an old practice, many mines will have old electrical equipment that will have to be tested for compatibility with any new electrical equipment. This is an even more important process in the mines than it is above them, because once you are underground you have to worry about the always looming danger of a mine collapse. Though there is some risk, this job does pay well. According to IThinkMining.com, the average mining electrician makes around $27.28.
When completing an apprenticeship or vocational school program, if you would like to be a mining electrician it would be a good idea to chose a program that specializes in mining. Mining electrician certifications are offered by some, though not all, certification agencies (for instance the Labor Commission of Utah has their own mining electrician certification test). Though some states do not require a mining certification in order to work in the mines, many employers will require it, as hiring an electrician without this certification could be a major liability. Those who are interested in becoming a mining electrician have the added responsibility of studying mine laws as well as the regular electric safety codes.
Though it may seem that there are not many mining electricians out there, you only have to look in order to find a whole mining electrician community. The Mining Electrical Maintenance & Safety Association is an organization that allows correspondence between mining electricians so they may trade both new job discoveries and old tricks of the trade. The Mining Electrical Maintenance & Safety Association strives to enrich the standards of the workforce, as well as keep all personnel as safe as possible. The organization derives from the Open Pit Mining Association which originated in 1945, so this organization is rich in education as well as history. They have annual meetings to discuss advances in the industry as well as a monthly newsletter. So if you want to become a mining electrician, there is a community out there just for you.
In short, the mining electrician’s job is interesting. It’s a small specialization, but not without its own tight knit community. Though you may have to study more in order to get into the field, the salary of the mining electrician makes it all worth it.
Posted: February 13th, 2012 under Uncategorized.