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Life of a Miner

Mining doesn’t happen in cities, so the main challenge for those choosing a career in mining is working in remote outback communities in South Australia. For lots of mine workers it is an adventurous life with lots of financial rewards but it’s best to go into it with your eyes open.

Fly in Fly Out

Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) is a relatively new way of achieving a work-life balance, especially for workers with families who live in urban and rural areas. Under a FIFO arrangement an employee will fly to a work site for the duration of their roster then return to their nearest capital city or regional centre (usually Adelaide, Port Augusta or Whyalla) for their time-off shift.

There are many challenges which workers need to be aware of before committing to FIFO. These include missing out on family occasions and social time with friends due to roster commitments and constantly adapting between tiring 12 hour shifts and “normal” family life. Some workers find that FIFO can place a strain on family relationships and there are certainly more emotional highs and lows than other workers might have in a routine “9 to 5” existence.

On the other hand, most FIFO workers view their life pragmatically, understanding that the arrangement allows them and their families to live anywhere in Australia, earn an above average income, provide good educational opportunities for their children and expand their careers at a faster rate than working in a “normal” job.

Many also appreciate the longer periods at home, enabling them to spend more quality time with their families.

For more information about FIFO, or if you are a partner of someone who works in a FIFO arrangement, check out the following sites:

Mining Family Matters

FIFO Families

Drive In Drive Out

Drive in Drive Out (DIDO) is not unlike a normal commuter job, where you either catch a bus or drive yourself  into a mine site and drive home at the end of your roster. Due to the distance from home some miners drive in, but stay in shared accommodation in a mine site village for the duration of their roster.

Alternatively, they may live in a nearby town and return home at the end of each shift.  However, most companies don’t like their staff commuting much more than an hour to work – after a 12 hours shift they want to see you get home safely.


The job roster controls your life on site and can depend on many different factors, such as which company you are working for, the type of job, the availability of labour and the remoteness of the site.

Variations include:

  • 2 weeks on/1 week off
  • 2 weeks on/2 weeks off
  • 9 days on/5 days off.

When on site, mine workers can expect to work every day for long shifts of around 12 hours.

Onsite Accommodation

Mining companies strive to make living in a mining village as enticing and as comfortable as possible.

Accommodation ranges from single rooms with en suites to hotel or lodge style facilities with comfortable beds, televisions and phone and Internet connections.

Recreational facilities can include gymnasiums, tennis courts and swimming pools and there is usually a wet mess (bar) attached to dining areas.

Safety is very important to mining companies and 24 hour medical facilities are available to workers.