Mining Engineer Career Profile

Mining engineers work across the entire spectrum of mining operations. Their work is vital to one of the world’s biggest industries.

The work environment

Mining engineers plan and design their workplace operations. They also act as technical experts and advisers to corporate management.

They’re responsible for the safe, efficient, and economic operation of all aspects of mining, including:

Design of mines:
Mines may be open cut, shaft, or alluvial mining operations. All forms of minerals have difference characteristics, like types of mineralization, structures of ore bodies, and different levels of mineral deposit values. This means mining engineers must design their mines to deal with these characteristics, and ensure the production methods are economic and efficient.

Extraction methods:
Minerals may be extracted in many different ways, depending on circumstances. For example, a gold deposit may be located in a seam which passes through two miles of solid granite. Extraction is likely to be expensive, unless the mining engineer can design a good, reliable way of cutting through the granite, or accessing the ore body and avoiding the granite.

Minerals processing:
Modern mining involves considerable processing of raw materials. These materials are extracted and processed to separate minerals and the related geological materials. Mining engineers must design separation methods which maximize the values of minerals recovery.  

Mining site waste and environmental issues:
Mines extract huge amounts of solid materials, usually called tailings, which are waste products. These wastes must be deposited responsibly, and designing the waste handling is part of the mining engineer’s job. In some forms of mining, heavy metals like lead are sometimes extracted which pose a risk to the environment through the water table. Preventing contamination is another complex task of the mining engineer, and may involve creation of special facilities for isolating these dangerous metals.

Many of these operations are extremely complex. Any mining operation can involve a lot of problem solving. Even common mining materials like coal often have a large range of technical issues in terms of basic mining and handling. The sheer size of some mines is often a design issue of itself, requiring lots of infrastructure design and on-site facilities for both processing and staff.

Wages:
$45020-$122750 depending on experience and qualifications. Salary range may also include consultancy scenarios.

Hours
: Can be extremely variable, due to levels of responsibility, safety issues, and the requirements of the advisory role to management.

The career environment

Mining engineers have perhaps the greatest job mobility of all engineers. Their industry is global, and includes some of the largest corporations in the world. Their experience, technical skills and career progression are directly related, requiring progressively higher levels of expertise and knowledge.  

The mining industry is a particularly receptive employment market for its engineers, who can provide very high value work to their employers even at their most basic levels of qualification. Mining engineers are able to operate in a very large range of types of work and areas within the industry. They tend to specialize in particular forms of mining, which also defines their career paths. Senior mining engineers are also usually experts across the range of their industries, acting as consultants or managers of mining projects.