Every mining magazine features a new article on new big trucks. There is more information on mining magazines on big mining trucks than any sane person needs, wants, or can absorb.

Admittedly those pictures of big trucks are sexy. The raw power of metal hurtling down a dusty road is enough to excite most men, and not a few women. You can understand why the below-average photographer, given a choice, elects to photograph the truck rather than the wetland or the rock slope. It is so much easier to get a shot of a big truck and it is so much easier to make it look interesting.

I suspect that magazines use all those photos of big mining trucks because the truck manufacturers do a good job of supplying the photos free. Mining magazine journalists and editors are as lazy a bunch as any, and given free copy by an activist manufacturer, they are suckers every time. And we are the poor victims of this unholy cycle of photos and self-promotion.

I can live with this excess of photos and editorial on big trucks in mining magazines. At least it is one more article I can skip. At least it is one more page I can turn quickly without delay. At least my conscience is clear that I am not missing anything relevant and interesting. Another magazine rapidly bound for the garbage dump.

But there is an aspect to the big truck photo scourge that we do not talk about. I refer to the folk who drive those big trucks. When last did you see a picture of a truck driver? When last did you read a decent profile of an honorable truck driver? 

I confess that I do not know any mine truck drivers. I confess that I have never even tried to write adequately about them. I know the driver of one of those big cross-country trucks. From him I know that truck drivers are as diverse as the population; but mostly they are honorable and incredibly skilled. He has about him a calm patience bred of unending hours speeding across the interstate hauling goods for our benefit.

Some time in early 2008 I posted a blog piece on mining truck drivers in Australia. That piece has become an all-time favorite. Currently is gets about 30 to 50 hits a day, and it has attracted sad and insightful comments.

To summarize the blog posting: InfoMine received an e-mail from a lady in Australia who noted that in spite of being trained, her boyfriend could not get a job as a truck driver. I commented that in spite of the innumerable magazine stories about a shortage of workers for the mining industry, I believed that the issue of the so-called shortage of workers is just something that is made up by journalist with nothing else to write about.

Many have commented on this blog posting, and all seem to agree: in spite of being trained, they cannot find jobs as truck drivers on mines in Australia. I wonder if the same is true of other places.

A quick Google search with keywords “truck driver jobs mining” brings up the usual job sites. No insight there. But I found a number of sites that list reasons why maybe it is so difficult to find a job as a mine truck driver. Here are a few:

HoganMining notes the easy work and high salaries that make for intense competition for the jobs there are:

Mine companies commonly use large trucks to move materials around on a mine site. A person who operates this type of truck is commonly referred to as a Dump Truck Driver. Working as a Dump Truck Driver is a very rewarding job and is not physically demanding as other jobs in this line of work can be. Many mining companies offer salaries upwards of $100,000 a year.

ArticleClick notes the easy work and competition from all sectors of the population:

Although dump trucks are massive pieces of machinery, they are relatively simple to operate. Therefore people from all different backgrounds are able to gain a position as a dump truck driver. There are no age or gender restrictions. More and more frequently, women are being hired by mining companies to fill dump truck driving positions. Mining companies realize the benefits of hiring women as they tend to have good safety records and minimize repairs costs.

GoWestNow realistically hits hard on the fact that like all professions, truck driving is a closed shop:

Gaining employment in the mining industry is not as easy as some people may think. While the demand for people is very strong, so is the need for skills and experience. Mining companies generally do not employ people who have not worked in this sector before.

There you have it: like all walks of life, it is what you know and more important who you know. It helps if you are prepared to go west, work hard, and live frugal. And avoid the photographer and the article-writing journalist.