We need Heavy Equipment Operators to work confidently with all kinds of complex machinery, outdoors or underground. They are responsible and safety-conscious members of the team who may operate anything from a backhoe to a remote-controlled device.

What is it Like to Work as Heavy Equipment Operator in Mining?

Note: these vary according to employer and region.

Heavy Equipment Operators work inside temperature-controlled equipment cabs. They work in their own in a cab for the majority of their shift and communicate with colleagues mostly over two-way radios or by using signals. New operators are likely trained by employers and begin by operating a blade machine, such as a grader, dozer or wheeled excavator. They are also required to lift heavy objects up to 23 kg (50 lbs).

Why are People Attracted to this Career?

Heavy Equipment Operators often specialize in more than one type of equipment. Many take advantage of opportunities to train on different types of heavy equipment or use their experience to train others.

Job Description

  • Use one or more types of heavy equipment:
    • Equipment used in open pit mines includes: graders, scrapers, track and wheel dozers and loaders, excavators, draglines, backhoes and shovels.
    • Equipment used in underground mines includes: locomotives, scoop trams, water trucks and remote-controlled equipment
  • Use heavy equipment according to operating practices to excavate and move minerals and metals, earth, sand, gravel, rock, muck, coal and snow
  • Safely drive and maneuver heavy equipment around the mine
  • May select, fit and remove attachments
  • Safely operate the controls of heavy equipment to minimize the risk of damage and injury
  • Monitor gauges, dials and other indicators to make sure the heavy equipment is working properly; report discrepancies to dispatch
  • Adjust controls to regulate pressure, control speed and flow of operation
  • Perform a walk-around inspection before, during, and after every shift (includes set-up and inspection of equipment to ensure safe operation)
  • May clean, maintain and secure equipment
  • Troubleshoot in accordance with regulations and approved procedures; may perform minor repairs as required or report issues to dispatch
  • Complete log books and daily reports on delays, production and safety issues
  • Use two-way radio, visual, audio and light signals to communicate with other operators and ensure safety


$26.45 an hour

$48.24 an hour

Job Prospect

Demand in Mining

Limited Great

Skill Transferability Among Other Industries

Low High

Success Profile

  • Follows verbal directions and hand signals
  • Ability to stay focused
  • Fast reflexes and good hand-eye and eye-foot coordination
  • Good interpersonal skills and works well with others
  • Good troubleshooting skills
  • Good vision and depth perception
  • Respect and understanding of safety procedures and regulations
  • Independent
  • Organized and alert

Job Entry Requirements

Note: The requirements listed below illustrate what it takes to start the career and does not take into account on-the-job training given to new employees.

Fixed Requirements

  • Physically fit and mobile
  • Must pass a medical and drug test
  • Willing to work in a diverse environment
  • Proficiency in language of operation

Regional Requirement

  • Technical training and a valid certificate for specific equipment (in some cases apprenticeship training)

May be Required

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Valid driver’s licence and good driving record


  • Previous experience operating heavy equipment
  • Willingness to relocate
  • Other languages
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