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Author Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Buckhill

Joined: 08/04/2008

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 08/10/2011 23:00:30
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I seem to have stirred up a bit of a hornets' nest on this one. Blush

Re Mech/Elec engineers. There were some of them, way back in NCB days, who believed that the mechanisation of mines meant that they rather than mining engineers should be managing the expensive machinery installed. Mining engineers would advise and answer to them! As Derrickman says there was an entrenched old guard which saw these upstarts off. (Incidentally there were two overseas institutions whose degrees/diplomas were acceptable if seeking a certificate of competency - Benares Hindu University and Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad).

Surveyors. The syllabus for these guys was about 50% surveying, the rest at various times was mining science, maths, principles of mining (ventilation, explosives, ground control, etc) and geology. (There were a small number at one college in the 60s who did a double ONC of surveying/elec/mech to make up numbers for each discipline). While a surveyor's main function is the preparation and upkeep of plans there were other duties which arose. They were the first line geologists and in some pits that was often a bigger part than the surveying. As to suitability as manager at a small mine how would you regard a certificated surveyor who at one such place did that job (as well as ventilation officer and training officer) and, being face trained, also worked "at the face" in the 4hr gap between shifts? Perhaps a bit different from the stereotype maybe?

Black powder. Yes it was stone (of a sort - I can't say more). And yes the result was a fireball due to the different propagation speeds of the explosives. At that place HE was used for tunneling (fragmentation) and black powder for "production" (it rends rather than breaks). When said clown was absent usual practice was to use electric delay dets in both tunnelling (dets in primers) and production (det taped to cordtex which was laid in hole alongside charge - less problem with sorting out misfire if you think about it). Occasionally a fused det was used with cordtex. A further example of this individuals knowledge was his initial refusal to allow the use of any of the large stock of electric dets in the magazine on the grounds that "they're too dangerous, sparks off cap lamps might set them off" Roll Eyes The point re HMI's approval of manager - well in this case the experience of this individual and the former role of another were, shall we say, not accurately relayed to him.
IP: 217.43.41.64
staffordshirechina

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 09/10/2011 20:16:28
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A bit of perspective on the current production of Colliery Managers.

I have just read the latest edition of the IOM3 magazine and there is a snippet saying that two people have passed this year's legislation exam.
The exam is only available now once per year at one location.
So that's it, 2 potential managers this year.

No wonder there is a shortage.
IP: 95.148.25.121
derrickman

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 10/10/2011 12:24:44
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surveyors are even worse.

The last one qualified several years ago. There is one doing an apprenticeship and that's it. The last scheduled exam, in 2009, was cancelled when all three candidates withdrew after it became apparent that none had any chance of achieving compulsory coal mine experience; none could qualify despite their extensive experience in other sectors.

--

''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change .... oh, I don't know, I've still got a lamp like that.
IP: 86.30.241.199
Alasdair Neill

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 11/10/2011 10:19:26
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One wonders how some of the restrictions mentioned stand up with European employment legislation. However I suppose things won't change while there is not a huge demand for mine managers in the UK. I know an ex quarry inspector who
now represents the HSE in ensuring Europe wide harmonisation of H&S legislation, would be intersting to hear his take.
IP: 46.60.252.69
derrickman

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 11/10/2011 11:46:35
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Things will undoubtedly move towards unification. CSM now do a "mining surveying" module which counts towards RICS membership; once you are RICS or CEng, that can be progressed to Eur Ing registration.

MASHAM is really descended from the old M&Q legislation, brought in at a time when coal mining was far and away the biggest sector in the UK.

Countries such as South Africa, Australia and Canada typically took the British format and expanded it to include gold, coal, diamonds or whatever their industries were, under a single umbrella.

However the greatest single criticism that could be made of technical and professional education in the UK is that there is no overall route to professional status under a single umbrella, never was and probably never will be. So, a German, Italian or South African entrant passes through a single syllabus with no direct input from their employer apart from experience and assessments signed by the candidates' line managers.

A British candidate founders somewhere between school and BSc status, in most cases.





--

''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change .... oh, I don't know, I've still got a lamp like that.
IP: 86.30.241.199
Graigfawr

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 13/10/2011 18:37:21
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In the light of most interesting comments on the tiny numbers of people sitting mine managers exams it seemed worthwhile gauging how many mines are still operating in the UK.

The British Geological Survey Directory of Mines and Quaries, published about every three years, is the only comprehensive listing that I'm aware of. The 2008 edition listed 36 mines (and many more quarries) as far as I could see (I may have missed a few in my quick browse) - 18 coal and 18 other (alternative names are given in brackets in the Directory):

Coal: Eckington, Thoresby, Welbeck, Clarghill, Hill Top, Cannop, Monument (Haynes Bailey), Daw Mill, Hatfield, Hay Royds, Kellingley, Maltby, Aberpergwm, Gleision, Nant Hir No.2, Unity, Black Barn (Cefn Crib) and Blaentillery No.2.

Others: Fauld (anhydrite and gypsum); Foss (barytes); Ashgrove (fireclay); Treak Cliff and Rogerley (both fluorspar); Omagh (gold); Barrow (Barrow-upon-Soar), Marblaegis (East leake, Hotchley, Silver Seal), Birkshead (Kirby Thore), Brightling (Robertsbridge) (all four gypsum); Florence (iron ore); Boulby (potash and salt); Winsford and Kilroot (both salt); Lochaline (Loch Aline) (silica sand); Honister and Llechwedd (both slate); South Crofty (tin).

Aditnow members with specific knowledge will be able to clarify which of these mines are too small to merit fully qualified managers, and which are large enough to merit under-managers as well as managers. I'd guess that very approximately there would seem to be around a hundred potential posts for qualified managers?

If managers are qualifying in mid career and have - say - the prospect of a 25 year career after receiving their qualification then there might be a need for around four to qualify each year to maintain a status quo of 100 qualified managers. Allowing for career changes and advancement beyond mine manager roles within larger concerns, and the need could easily rise to half a dozen a year.

As was perceptively observed up-thread: with only two or so managers qualifying each year, there will in due course be a significant shortfall and there will be a need to recogonise non-UK qualifications in this field if the mining industry is to continue to operate.



IP: 92.26.70.200 Edited: 13/10/2011 19:33:50 by Graigfawr
Ty Gwyn

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 13/10/2011 19:08:25
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You can knock several of the coal mines off the list,

Nant hir No2
Blaentillery No2
Blackbarn
Gleision pending investigations
Cannop

But add Dan y graig No4
I m sure some of the other English mines have closed also.
IP: 86.146.164.2
staffordshirechina

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Joined: 15/11/2009
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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 13/10/2011 19:57:43
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Also, just because a mine is not actually producing mineral doesn't mean it hasn't got a Manager.

Any mine that is classed as open for any purpose needs a Manager. For instance, tourist mines or pumping mines.
Even mines that are being opened on a temporary basis for remedial work must have someone in charge to comply with the law.
Dare I mention Coombe Down? Innocent
IP: 92.7.32.89
Buckhill

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 13/10/2011 20:54:58
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Clargill has gone since that list came out (small enough for a deputys' certificate), and so has Florence (owner/manager had 1st Class ironstone certificate but only 4 workers). IP: 217.43.41.64
Graigfawr

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 13/10/2011 23:16:20
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The 2010 edition of the BGS Directory of Mines & Quarries is online at: www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=2036 Based on a rapid scan, the changes to mines appear to be as follows:

Deletions compared to the 2008 edition (upthread):

Coal: Welbeck, Clarghyll, Hill Top, Cannop, Nant Hir No.2, Black Barn, Blaentillery No.2 (total seven).

Other: Ashgrove (fireclay), Florence (iron ore), Lochaline (silica sand) (total three).


Additions compared to the 2008 edition (upthread):

Coal: Dan y Graig No.4, Johnson (total two).

Other: Blue John (fluorspar) (total one).


Net changes:

Coal: five fewer, leaving 13 operational mines.

Other: two fewer, leaving 16 operational mines.

Total: seven fewer, leaving 29 operational mines.


The distribution beteeen the four 'home countries' is:

Northern Ireland: two: Omagh (gold), Kilroot (salt).

Wales: six: Aberpergwm, Dan y Graig No.4, Gleision, Unity, Johnson (all five coal); Llechwedd (slate).

Scotland: one: Foss (barytes).

England: the remaining 20 (8 coal, 12 other).
IP: 92.26.70.200
NewStuff

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 13/10/2011 23:30:31
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Graigfawr wrote:

29 operational mines.


And there you have the reason I decided not to pursue this as a career, despite having my other half's full support, and if I blow my own trumpet, the smarts to do it. It was always, at best, going to be one hell of an uphill struggle, in what seems to be very much a "dead mans shoes" industry.

--

In your mines, Taking your pictures...
IP: 109.224.135.253
derrickman

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 14/10/2011 10:04:34
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Since you mention Combe Down, it would be relevant to point out that this project had two Mine Managers plus a Deputy Manager.

Of the three, One Manager and the Deputy Manager were NCB qualified, but the second Manager was not. He had a mining degree ( from Cardiff, as it happens ) and management experience at South Crofty and Wheal Jane, but no Managers' ticket.

He was appointed to the position by virtue of having been the original manager for the Fox Hill project, an adjacent contract which was subsequently incorporated within the Combe Down operation.

The main project had three Mine Surveyors over its duration, but only one of the three was MQB qualified. Fox Hill had two MQB-qualified surveyors, but I was appointed as Mine Surveyor for the combined projects because it was felt that I had the experience to deal with what was essentially an administrative role requiring surveying experience, and the Fox Hill team were re-employed and continued with their actual role as before under my supervision, which amounted in practice to keeping myself informed of their activities.



Cleveland Potash, British Gypsum and Salt Union do not, in fact, NEED Managers and Surveyors who are MQB qualified. What they DO need to do, is satisfy both HMIM and their insurers that they have suitable qualified and experienced staf, and the MQB is the only available bench-mark.

This is because the NCB, in conjunction with NUM and NACODS, steered legislation through the then-Labour government making it so. The politics of the relationship between NUM, non-coal mine miners and contract workers in NCB pits were complex and at times, fairly poisonous, and I don't propose to discuss this further.

Right now, there are a very small and rapidly dwindling number of qualified AND EXPERIENCED Mine Managers, Mine Surveyors and Engineers in their various disciplines. There are a number of persons who have various qualifications,but their careers have long been stalled for lack of opportunity and realistically, will probably never progress.

There are also a number of personnal with experience but lacking MQB qualifications. I regularly see CVs from South Africans with SACM papers, for example. There are a fair number of British personnel with experience gained overseas, or in non-coal mining in UK. For reasons which are essentially cultural and historic, these persons are excluded, and will remain so for as long as the ex-NCB personnel controlling the advice given to HMG remain in a position to do so.

Looking forward, it looks probable that the current Mine Surveyor ticket will ultimately be superseded by a European-type standard along the lines of the RICS module being developed at CSM and elsewhere. I would expect that the various engineering disciplines will follow a similar route via their respective Professional Institutes, which are affiliated to their European conuterparts.

let's see what develops




--

''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change .... oh, I don't know, I've still got a lamp like that.
IP: 88.202.124.68
staffordshirechina

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 15/10/2011 22:21:42
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New Stuff - Mining is fine as a career, just not in this country.
You get qualified then go abroad.
Other countries are desparate for mining people.
IP: 95.148.25.121
NewStuff

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 15/10/2011 23:15:36
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staffordshirechina wrote:

New Stuff - Mining is fine as a career, just not in this country.
You get qualified then go abroad.
Other countries are desparate for mining people.


I'm working on the other half's acceptance with regard to going abroad with a young child. Should this happen, then I'll be applying.

--

In your mines, Taking your pictures...
IP: 109.224.135.253
derrickman

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 16/10/2011 06:39:26
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best time to go, while they are young enough to accept it.

Securing wife's agreement is rarely possible! Present them with a fait accompli and lots of chocolate. Tell them Australia is where "Home and Away" comes from, that should do it... a mate of mine claims to have told his wife they were going to Florida and she had watched 6 months' worth of "Friends" and Strictly Cooking Rescue before she noticed the difference...



--

''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change .... oh, I don't know, I've still got a lamp like that.
IP: 88.202.124.68 Edited: 16/10/2011 06:41:23 by derrickman
A J Pack

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 17/01/2012 13:57:08
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How things have changed over the years. I would have loved to be a mining surveyor in todays world. With all the modern equipment QPS - CAD - you name it. When I took my MQB ticket if you passed the Written but failed the Practical you had to go back to take the written again!!! That changed later, it wasn't really fair. The theo. I had to use was a 10 second vernier instrument built about 1910. Very accurate but a pain to use. I never took it to the practical exams. I would never have passed (too slow). And drawing office techiques were a pain also! The paper was like blotting paper so you couldn't use Indian Ink. My first job in the drawing office each morning was to mix up a quantity of 'lamp black' paint Sad for the draughtmen to use. Also the Survey Depertment picked up all the other disciplines not identified by the others so that surveying was only a small part of the job. I'm not complaining - I loved my life in the mines. Big Grin IP: 79.71.78.64
Graigfawr

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 17/01/2012 20:13:20
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The Big Pit mine manager posst has been re-advertised: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/jobs/?id=615 closing date 31 January. IP: 92.26.79.189
derrickman

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 18/01/2012 08:27:55
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This does rather beg the question if what museums are FOR, and how they are expected to be sustained. I could name at least two candidates for this role, but at least one has told me informally that he sees no useful purpose to come off pension for a role of this nature ( he took early retirement in his forties as part of the run-down of the industry ).

It's a matter of simple arithmetic that the next manager will simply not be available.

If a graduate in museum-grade geology feels able to claim that they are not liable to do a "work placement" in Poundland because they have a volunteer post in a museum ( and why DOES Poundland get shelf-stackers free from the benefits roll, anyway? ) then can't suitable candidates be placed as supernumeraries with the few working mines, at public expense?

Mining is what you make it. I have just had a very tedious spell in port, and one vessel which came alongside during that time was a coring vessel operated by Seacore - a contracting company founded by a group of CSM graduates, running out of Falmouth and using local ex-mining labour where possible. The Drilling Superintendent and at least two members of the drilling team were locals.

One of the young CSM graduates from CSM is now working for a consultant on the CrossRail project, another is employed training as a cementing specialist with Schlumberger, and that's about the biggest name in the field.



--

''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change .... oh, I don't know, I've still got a lamp like that.
IP: 86.30.241.199
staffordshirechina

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 18/01/2012 08:49:38
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Again I would observe that they are being stingy with the pay.
The starting pay is still what it was the first time around. They have just added a higher 'eventual' pay.
If it didn't attract anyone the first time around, I doubt it will this time either.
I also think the Welsh language requirement, whilst 'desirable' is essential really. That rules out another load of potential applicants, me included.
At this rate they will be running out of their legal 72 days to recruit a replacement manager.
IP: 95.148.26.42
derrickman

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Big Pit Blaenafon: mine manager post advertised
Posted: 18/01/2012 15:48:53
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... which is why one possible candidate told me he wasn't interested;

(1) given his pension settlement, occasional contract work and likely actual earnings, less travel costs, he saw little incentive financially

(2) although a "valley boy" born and bred, he doesn't speak or understand Welsh and has little interest in the matter. I don't know what percentage of Welsh miners would speak Welsh but certainly at Combe Down, it was 1 in 3 or less. I worked at Abergavenny for 2 years a while ago, not far from Big Pit, and that isn't a Welsh-speaking area to any significant extent.

(3) I shouldn't think many eligible candidates have any significant experience of the Charities Act.


--

''the stopes soared beyond the range of our caplamps' - David Bick...... How times change .... oh, I don't know, I've still got a lamp like that.
IP: 86.30.241.199
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