Metal and Iron Ore Mining

The Iron Age began around 1200 BC, ending the Bronze Age that preceded it and paving the way to man’s mastery of metal. Individuals during this period began extracting iron ore to forge tools and weapons. The reason revolves around Iron being one of the most abundant metals found on earth.

Iron makes up 98% of earth’s core and 5% of earth’s crust.   Iron today is the core component in steel, allowing us to build buildings, cars, ships, and weapons.  In fact, we even eat Iron!  Check out the nutrition facts of cereal to the right.

Iron transports oxygen through our body


US iron mining is most prevalent in Minnesota and Michigan.  The majority of the mining found for these operations is Surface Mining. This form of mining is when minerals are directly removed from the ground surface area.  It is also commonly known as “open cast mining”, making up the majority of metal ore mining.  More than 95% of all non-metallic minerals involved this type of mining.

Value of Minerals


Occupations Found Across the Industry

Click on an occupation to expand and learn more.

  • Chemical Processing Machine Operator 

    Operate equipment to control chemical changes or reactions in the processing of industrial product. There are roughly around 930 of these workers found in Metal mining.  You will find these workers detecting equipment leaks and drawing samples of products.  Common Job titles for this position are Multiskill Operator, Production Operator, and Spray Dry Operator.

  • Construction Laborers and Extraction Occupations 

    Perform tasks involving physical labor at construction sites.  Mining examples include earth drillers, blasters and explosives workers, derrick operators, and mining machine operators.  There are roughly around 12,000 of these workers found in Metal mining.  You will find these workers using hand tools, repairing drilling equipment, and transporting materials.  Common Job titles for this position are Mining Technician, Helper, Laborer, Post Framer, and Construction Worker.

  • Continuous Mining Machine Operators 

    Operate mining machines that rip coal, metal and nonmetal ores, rock, stone, or sand from the mine face and load it onto conveyors or into shuttle cars.  There are roughly around 3,600 of these workers found in Metal mining.  You will find these workers assisting in construction activities, checking the roof stability and cleaning equipment.  Common Job titles for this position are Bore Mine Operator, Miner Operator, and Continuous Miners.

  • Electricians 

    Install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures.  Around 1,100 of this occupation in Metal mining.  You will find these workers connecting wires to breakers and transformers, making dielectric and FR safety gear important.  Common Job titles for this position are Industrial Electrician, Journeyman Electrician and Wireman, and Maintenance Electrician.

  • Explosive Workers 

    Place and detonate explosives to demolish structures or to loosen, remove, or displace earth, rock, or other materials. May perform specialized handling, storage, and accounting procedures. Includes seismograph shooters. There are around 1,000 of these working in Mining. You will find these workers placing explosive charges in holes and shoveling drill cuttings. Common Job titles for this position are Blaster, Explosive Technician, and Powderman.

  • Extraction Workers 

    Help craft workers by supplying equipment, cleaning areas, and repair drilling equipment. Extraction craft workers are earth drillers, blasters and explosives workers, derrick operators, and mining machine operators.  There are around 8,400 of these workers.  Common Job titles for this position are Blasting Helper, Miner Helper, and Driller Helper.

  • Furnace, Kiln, Oven, Drier, and Kettle Operators 

    Operate or tend heating equipment other than basic metal, plastic, or food processing equipment. There are around 1,000 of these working in Mining. You will find these workers handling, moving objects and clearing equipment jams. Common Job titles for this position are Dry Kiln Operator, Dryer Feeder, and Overn Operator.

  • Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians and Mechanics 

    Repair overhaul mobile mechanical, hydraulic, and pneumatic equipment.  Examples of this equipment includes cranes, bulldozers, graders, and conveyors.  There are around 2,100 of these workers found in Quarries. You will find these working replacing worn parts and reassembling heaving equipment with tools.  Common Job titles for this position are Heavy Equipment Technician, Field Mechanic, and Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic.

  • Industrial Maintenance Workers 

    Lubricates machines, changes parts, and performs machinery maintenance. Mining employs a little over 3,700 of these workers in Metal mining.  You will find these workers cleaning machine and machine parts.  Cleaning solvents, oil and metalworking fluids are a definite concern for these workers.  Common Job titles for this position are Lubricator, Maintenance Man, and Oiler.

  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics 

    Worker activities include repairing, installing, and adjusting industrial machinery.  There are around 2,400 of this occupation working in Metal mining.  You will find these workers cutting and welding metal to repair broken metal parts.  Job titles for this position are Fixer, Industrial and Master Mechanic.

  • Metal and Plastic Workers 

    Operate machines designed to cut, shape and form metal.  There are roughly 1,100 employees found for this occupation.  You will find this worker fabricating metal products, lifting heavy material and working with their hands.  Common job titles for this position are sheet metal worker and welder. Be sure to check out our Metal Fabrication industry educational page. 

  • Maintenance and Repair Workers, General 

    Keep machines, mechanical equipment, or the structure of an establishment in repair.  There are around 3,000 of this occupation found in Metal mining.  You will find these workers pipe fitting, repairing equipment, and repairing buildings.   Job titles for this position are Maintenance Worker, Maintenance Mechanic, and Facilities Manager.

  • Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic 

    Repair, or overhaul mobile equipment, such as cranes, bulldozers, graders, and conveyors, used in construction, logging, and surface mining.  There are roughly around 2,100 of these workers found in Metal mining.  You will find these workers replacing worn parts and reassembling equipment using hand tools. Common Job titles for this position are Heavy Equipment Technician, Field Mechanic, and Equipment Mechanic.

  • Separating, Filtering, Clarifying, Precipitating, and Still Machine Operators 

    Operate continuous flow / vat-type equipment; filter presses; shaker screens; centrifuges; scrubbing towers; and batch stills.  There are roughly around 930 of these workers found in Metal mining.  You will find these workers pouring unrefined material into machines.  Common Job titles for this position are Machine Tender and Plant Operator

  • Welding, Soldering and Brazing Machine Operators 

    Help operate welding, soldering or brazing machines that weld, braze, or heat treat metal products.  The mining industry employs around 500 of these workers in Metal mining. You will find these workers adding material to work pieces, joining metal components, and annealing finished work pieces. Common Job titles for this position are Fabricator, Mig Welder, Spot Welder, Fitter-Welder, and Braze Operators.  

  • Welding Cutters and Fitters 

    Use hand-welding, flame-cutting, hand soldering, and brazing equipment to weld/join metal components, fill holes, indentations, or seams of fabricated metal products.  There are around 500 of these workers employed in Metal mining.  You will find these workers welding components in flat, vertical or overhead positions.  Common Job titles for this position are Maintenance Welder, Mig Welder, and Welder/Fabricator.


 
“As Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another”
Proverbs 27:17

Let us help sharpen your PPE knowledge and keep you protected from the many mining hazards faced. Before we cover our product solutions, here are the most common overall hazards miners face.

Metal mine operator injuries
Nonfatal Surface mining injuries
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Common Metal and Iron Ore Mining Hazards

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