Surface Miner Program

14 weeks (includes the Safety Boot Camp; Introduction to the Mining Industry is a prerequisite)

Program Description

The fourteen-week Surface Miner Program will provide participants with entry-level knowledge, skills and attitudes outlined in the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MIHR) National Occupational Standards for Surface Miners. In this practical, hands-on program, students will be introduced to surface mining operations and mine equipment operation in northern, cold-weather environments, using both mining equipment and simulators. The course content focuses on surface mining operations, mine safety and mobile mine equipment operation. Course delivery will have both a classroom based and practical component including learning on simulators and at the Aurora College open pit training facility.

Program Eligibility

To be considered for the program, applicants must meet each of the criterion listed below:

  • Minimum 18 years of age  prior to commencement of the training program;
  • Minimum of Grade 9 Mathematics and English, and/or successful completion of Adult Basic Education or equivalency with transcripts
  • Submission of a Criminal Records Check (applicants with a criminal record will be considered subject to a case-by-case review).
  • Completion of Aurora College Introduction to the Mining Industry Program (180 Hours)

Applicant Assessment

Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements stated above.

Individual assessments and interviews may be required. Applicants in possession of letters of intent from prospective employers may receive preference.

Download our application form here

Employer Requirements

In addition, applicants should be aware that employers will generally be seeking Surface Miners who:

  • meet the physical requirements to complete assigned duties as determined through approved medical testing
  • are prepared to be away from their home communities during work rotations
  • possess a valid driver’s license (based on employer policies), and
  • are able to meet drug screening requirements.

Program Admission

Applicants will be admitted to the program based upon program eligibility and/or personal interviews.

Program Information

The Surface Miner Program is designed to give students a thorough and comprehensive introduction to surface mining operations. The program is based on 60 days at 6 hours per day, for a total of 360 hours over twelve weeks. It will be delivered at the Yellowknife/ North Slave Campus of Aurora College. Components of the program will include the use of simulators and on-site training at the Aurora College Open Pit Training Site.

The course material will focus on mine safety, surface mining operations and mobile mining equipment operation. Experiential learning activities will form a key component of the program, including simulator and mobile equipment operation. Students will learn to work with a partner and as part of a team. Attendance in both class and field activities is mandatory.

Program Objectives

The primary objective of the program is to produce job-ready, entry-level Surface Miner Trainees. Students will be exposed to “real life” surface mining situations through the use of mobile mining equipment and simulators. Instruction will include the use of mobile mining equipment, simulators, guest speakers from industry, classroom activities, etc.

Completion Requirements

Students must:

  • complete all courses to the satisfaction of the instructors
  • attend classes and adhere to both Aurora College and program specific policies.

Document of Recognition

Aurora College Record of Achievement

Length (yrs/months/weeks/hours) – 14 Weeks



Course Number

Course/Module Name



Course Hours




Introduction to Surface Mining






Personal Safety






Working Safely at Site






Surface Mining Mobile Equipment






Surface Mining Hand and Power Tools






Explosives and Blasting






Emergency Preparedness












Course/Module Descriptions

771-001 - Introduction to Surface Mining

In this course, students will be introduced to the field of surface mining. Course topics include an understanding of minerals and the mining industry; the various types of mining and surface mining; the mining lifecycle; and the roles and responsibilities of a Surface Miner and their Supervisors/Team Leaders. The course will also provide information about the working conditions of Surface Miners; the knowledge and skills they require; and the importance of communications in surface mining.

771-002 - Personal Safety

In this course, students will learn about their personal responsibility for the safety of self and others; the hazards and risks associated with mining; and how to assess, report, identify and control hazards and risks. Students will also become familiar with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); their responsibilities related to the function, use and maintenance of PPE; the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS); and fire safety.

771-003 Working Safely at Site

In this course, students will be introduced to the daily safety practices to ensure the safety of self and others at site. Course topics include working safely in, and around, an open pit including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); safe working practices for a variety of northern and mining conditions; traffic rules and responsibilities; and pit slope design with an understanding of concepts, terminology and wall stability; and, potential hazards including geological structures.

771 – 004 Surface Mining Mobile Equipment

In this course, students will be introduced to mobile equipment including light vehicles, haul trucks and loaders used in surface mining. Students will become familiar with safety practices including pre-start, walk around, shut down and emergency brake procedures; and controls and gauges associated with safe operations.

Significant portions of the course will take place on simulators and at the Aurora College Open Pit Training Facility.

771-005 - Surface Mining Hand and Power Tools

In this course, students will be introduced to hand and power tools used in surface mining and will become familiar with practices for the safe use, handling and storage of hand and power tools.

771-006 Explosives and Blasting

In this course, students will be introduced to the correct processes and methods for using explosives and working around blasting operations with a strong emphasis on safety.

The course will include information on drill patterns and blasting methods; different types of blasting; and various types of explosives. The course will focus on the hazards associated with explosives and blasting and the safety precautions for working around, handling, using and transporting explosives.

The course is for familiarization purposes ONLY. The course does not involve the actual use of explosives or blasting components. Participants interested in a career in explosives or blasting must enter into an accredited blasting program.

771-007 - Emergency Preparedness

In this course, students will be introduced to emergency preparedness including site wide emergency planning; the key components of an emergency plan; emergency planning for a surface mine in a Northern climate; and the components and personal responsibilities of emergency notifications.


Download our application form here