Is it worth paying for a dump truck course?
Dump truck licence?
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 licence. You don’t need a dump truck licence to drive a massive dump truck on a 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 ‘licence’.
All you need is a dump truck qualification – which we will talk about later on in this article.
But for now…read on.
The difference between a dump truck licence and a dump truck operator qualification.
If you’re new to the industry or even just starting to think about chasing a job in the mines, you need to know a few truths.
To be able to drive a large truck on a public roadway, you are required by law to hold a heavy vehicle licence. The name of this type of licence varies from state to state. Remember, this is not a licence to drive a dump or haul truck in a mining environment . . . let’s make that quite clear.
Driving big trucks in Australia.
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 licence 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 licence?
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 licence 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 licence, 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 RIIMPO338D – Conduct Haul Truck Operations and has the endorsement of the Australian Qualifications Framework Level (AQF).
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 licence vs dump truck national qualification
There is a distinct difference between a licence and a qualification. HR licence 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 licence.
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 licence, only a nationally recognised dump truck qualification – they are very different.
Official information on this qualification
The RIIMPO338D – Conduct Haul Truck Operations training course as developed by the mining sector can be found on the official training website for the Australian government.
Qualifications are assessed typically by first providing what we call Elements and Performance Criteria, then measuring the knowledge gained (requires Knowledge Evidence to be demonstrated) by the student in a process called Performance Evidence. This is to demonstrate a student’s competency in this qualification.
Elements and Performance Criteria
There are 4 areas of Performance Criteria you need to be aware of. Each element has it’s own set of criteria that must be met during the assessment stage. It helps if you can understand what you will be assessed on as you work through the learning materials of the dump truck course. It makes total sense to be aware of what you will be assessed on – then learn the information.
1. Plan and prepare for rigid haul truck operations
2. Operate rigid haul truck
3. Load, haul and dump materials
4. Carry out rigid haul truck post-operational procedures
Evidence is collected in order to demonstrate you understand the unit in its entirety.
Typically, the would cover driving and manoeuvring rigid haul vehicle smoothly, correctly positioning the rigid haul vehicle for loading of materials, hauling materials to designated location, unloading materials from the rear of the vehicle, identifying issues with vehicle equipment, undertaking approved vehicle shutdown and refuelling, applying relevant documentation, policies and procedures, working effectively with others, using a range of communications techniques, coordinating activities with others on site.
You must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the following when conducting rigid haul truck operations.
Vehicle refueling procedures, complying with operational system, hauling procedures, loading procedures, changing work conditions, systems and alarms, equipment operating, maintenance and cleaning requirements and procedures.
Find out more about the Dump Truck qualification on training.gov.au : RIIMPO338D – Conduct Haul Truck Operations