Extractives and Mineral Processing Occupations (Wales)

Framework status: Current (latest) issue

Framework details

Framework ID: FR02911
Issue number: 7
Issued: 18 November 2014

Download framework

Extractives and Mineral Processing Occupations (Wales)
(PDF document 7.29 MB)

Issued by

Contact name: Lisa Williamson
Telephone number: 01235 432030
Please download the framework for email contact information.


Manufacturing is a key sector in the Welsh economy, directly accounting for 18% of Welsh GDP. Wales has had a long history of extracting and processing its rich mineral resources. However, many factors will continue to have an impact on companies in the sector, such as difficult trading conditions, competition, advancing technology, legislation and environmental issues and changing working practices. These are all factors that companies in Wales have identified will have a significant impact on their businesses over the coming years.

Everyone depends on the earth's mineral resources. These natural resources must be found, then mined, quarried or dredged from the ground or sea bed and processed to provide the materials and products which are essential to our daily lives.

Extraction takes place at either quarries for sand, gravel, rock and open cast coal sites, from mines for coal, salt and other minerals or by dredging from the sea bed for sand and gravel. Materials are then processed to meet the needs of customers. For example, crushed rock can be coated with bitumen at an asphalt plant and then used to make or repair roads, runways, playgrounds, car parks and much more. Crushed rock, sand and gravel can be mixed with cement to produce concrete which is widely used in construction. The construction industry is totally reliant on minerals in order to build homes, hospitals, bridges and roads. Minerals are also extensively used in other manufacturing industries and in agriculture. Such is the importance of the materials quarried and mined.

The Extractive, Minerals Processing and related Manufacturing Industries are very diverse and can be divided into a number of different sub-sectors. For example, in the United Kingdom the industry covers:

  • Deep coal mines and opencast coal working
  • Quarrying of aggregates for construction
  • Extraction and agglomeration of peat
  • Manufacture of solid fuel
  • Mining of iron ore and non-ferrous metal ores
  • Quarrying of ornamental and building stone, and slate
  • Operation of sand and gravel pits
  • Quarrying of clays and kaolin
  • Quarrying of silica and foundry sands
  • Production of chemical and fertilizer minerals (salt, potash, gypsum, chalk, lime, barytes)
  • Recycling of construction demolition waste, slags and glass
  • Manufacture of asphalt and related coated products
  • Manufacture of cement, plaster, ready-mixed concrete and mortars
  • Manufacture of precast and prestressed concrete products 
  • Cutting, shaping and finishing of ornamental and building stone
  • Off-shore dredging for sand and gravel
  • Other mining, quarrying and processing activities.

Currently quarrying and mining employs nearly 50 thousand people in the UK and a further 20 thousand in jobs related to the industry. The total annual production value exceeds £6 billion. There are over 1,300 quarries in the UK supported by a fleet of 25 marine aggregate dredgers: together they produce 210 million tonnes of aggregate and industrial minerals per year. There are also approaching 100 mines. Wales accounts for approximately 8% of the totals.

The skill base requirements for the sector covers a wide scope, ranging from mobile and fixed plant operators through to mining technicians and quarry managers. The industry offers a vast array of opportunities ranging from mining, civil, mechanical and industrial engineering, geology, logistics, operations, production, environment, health & safety and sales and marketing.It is widely predicted that higher level management and technical skills will become increasingly important to the industry in the future as more of the elementary tasks become automated. There will be a continuing need for health, safety and environmental skills in the sector and it will become more important for workers to be multi-skilled and be able to work across several areas of the business.

The Mineral Products Qualifications Council works with employers from the Extractive, Minerals Processing and related Manufacturing Industries to help businesses improve their productivity and competitiveness through skills training.

Currently almost all of employers in Wales train their employees and a fifth agree that the need to increase workforce skills will continue to be a key factor in the coming years. Organisations who are training are much more likely to be developing new products and looking to enter new markets. Training is also heavily associated with developing new working practices and technological advances.

Extensive research and comprehensive employer consultation has identified a need to upskill current and future workforces to enable businesses in the Extractive, Minerals Processing and related Manufacturing Industries to address the challenges they currently face. The current economic climate means that there is an increasing need for workforces to be multi-skilled.

Skills training is required to help Extractive, Minerals Processing and related Manufacturing Industries address the following:
• Skills shortages, particularly as the industry recovers from the recession and needs to increase production
• To meet constantly changing consumer demands and preferences
• To address changes in technology and working practices
• To support legislation compliance on Health and Safety as well as Environmental Management
• To improve efficiencies by tightening up processes to tackle the issue of rising energy costs and the need for more energy-efficient machinery and processes
• To drive business performance improvements to increase national and global competitiveness.
• To improve current low capacity utilisation which in turn means declining profitability, driven primarily by the acquisition of new technologies without adequate adaptation of business planning to accommodate their higher capacities.

This Apprenticeship framework provides a structure that will ensure that training and assessment is carried out systematically and will help meet the current and future needs of the Extractive, Minerals Processing and related Manufacturing Industries. Essentially, this is a sound knowledge and understanding of the complexities of the manufacturing processes, underpinned by the relevant skills and principles.

The competency outcomes described at all levels will give Apprentices a range of pertinent skills, whilst the underpinning knowledge will ensure that Apprentices understand basic and complex Extractive, Minerals Processing and related Manufacturing Industries principles and processes. The mix of competencies and job knowledge will engender the notion of best practice, health and safety and innovation.

The Apprenticeship framework for Extractives and Mineral Processing Industries is designed with a changing and more competitive world in mind – it is about providing the best possible preparation for achieving skilled occupational status, for both young and older workers, within industries that are ever changing and increasingly demanding.


Download framework

Extractives and Mineral Processing Occupations (Wales)
(PDF document 7.29 MB)