Is it worth paying for a dump truck training course?
Should I pay for a dump truck license?
That is a question that has been asked many times and one where there is a bit of confusion as to what that question really means.
For starters, there is no dump truck license. A dump truck license is not needed to drive a massive dump truck on a private mine site. When you consider every mine site is located on private land where no public roads exist, it starts to make a little bit more sense as to what’s required in terms of a ‘license’.
The difference between a dump truck license and a dump truck operator qualification.
To be able to operate a piece of heavy equipment on a public roadway, you are required by law to hold a heavy vehicle license. The name of this type of license varies from state to state. Remember, this is not a license to drive a dump or haul truck in a mining environment . . . let’s make that quite clear.
There are many types of classifications when it comes to driving big trucks in Australia.
The most common ones are:
- Light Rigid (LR) = a rigid vehicle with a GVM of more than 4.5 tonnes up to 8 tonnes
- Medium Rigid (MR) = a rigid vehicle with 2 axles and a GVM of more than 8 tonnes
- Heavy Rigid (HR) = a rigid vehicle with 3 or more axles and a GVM of more than 8 tonnes
- Heavy Combination (HC) = heavy combination vehicles like a prime mover towing a semi-trailer, or rigid vehicles towing a trailer with a GVM of more than 9 tonnes
- Multi-combination (MC) = multi-combination vehicles like Road Trains and B-Double Vehicles
*GVM = gross vehicle mass
What is a mining dump truck?
A mining dump truck is specifically used on a mine or quarrying site. They are not driven on public roads, except for extreme instances. Dump trucks in Australia are commonly twice as wide as a normal HR, HC or MC road vehicle. The height of the dump truck is also significantly greater than that of the tallest HR – MC vehicles found on Australian roads.
For instance the popular Caterpillar 797 dump truck is a monster and is considered one of the largest mining trucks in the business, although, new dump trucks produced by Belaz have recently taken out that top spot. The Belaz 75710 has a payload capacity of 496t, is as wide as 3 family vehicles side by side and is 20.6m long, 8.16m high and 9.87m wide.
These trucks are huge and require plenty of well-trained and experienced operators to safely move them around a mine site.
It’s very doubtful that a person with a HR license would sit behind the wheel of a truck of this size without first having a lot of training, not just in vehicle operation, but also in the theory of operation.
Why should I pay for a dump truck license?
The original question was “Why should I pay for a dump truck license?“, when it seems like a waste of time because these courses are not recognised.
Back in the day when mining was enjoying the benefits of high commodity prices, mining companies, especially in Western Australia, had big problems trying to get enough people on site to drive dump trucks. Many experienced HR license holders who had previously been driving articulated and tray back trucks on public roads, got a job with relative ease.
This ‘urban myth’ grew up around the fact, if you had a HR license, you could glide into a dump truck operator job . . . and it was not worth spending the money on a course to learn how to drive a dump truck.
In 2014, things have rapidly changed as anyone who has followed the mining industry would know. Mining companies have a different agenda now, and that is to raise productivity whilst maintaining a safe working environment.
We have seen mining companies like BMA in Queensland, create a new mine and staff it with people who have never worked in mining before. One of the reasons for this is to create a new culture in the industry, one where safety and new operational procedures pave the way for a brighter future for all employees.
Why you could consider enrolling in a dump truck course
There’s still good money to be made driving dump trucks in the mines. You only have to look at the mining jobs boards to see plenty of jobs advertised. Not all dump truck operator jobs are for entry-level operators, most of the time, experienced operators are needed. However, that’s not to be taken in a negative way.
Such is the way things are done in the mining industry, it’s often been proven that the best way to get a mining job is to start at the bottom and use whatever means possible to get a ‘foot in the door’.
A dump truck training course provides the perfect stepping stone for people who are looking for a pathway into a mining career in Australia. It may not be for everyone, although many people have secured work this way.
Completing a dump truck training course and attaining a nationally recognised qualification, then including this on a resume, can make a big difference to your chances of gaining a mining job. The national qualification for dump truck operators is called the RIIMPO311A ““ Conduct Haul Truck Operations and has the endorsement of the Australian government.
A huge bonus of having the RIIMPO311A ““ Conduct Haul Truck Operations on a resume means when the resume is scanned by software designed to look for keywords related to a dump truck operator’s job, the resume is allowed to pass, whereas others fail. This first step of the job application process is where most applicants fail.
Dump truck license vs dump truck national qualification
There is a distinct difference between a license and a qualification. HR license holders have experience driving big vehicles on congested public highways and roads, they have a good sense of the road rules. Dump truck operators have a very different environment in which to operate and don’t forget all dump trucks are left-hand drive, which presents even more challenges for drivers who are used to driving on an HR license.
They must work around other types of mining machinery and personnel as part of their daily shift, as well as learn to operate the vehicles in challenging conditions and terrain types. Safety and compliance whist operating a dump truck are high on the priority of drivers, as well as those people who work alongside.
Just remember, there is no dump truck license, only a nationally recognised dump truck qualification – they are very different.