Mining, minerals and quarry engineers work on the
extraction of raw materials such as metals, gypsum, salt,
clays, gravel and stone from underground tunnelling
systems (mines) and overground, open-cast pits
(quarries). A range of methods is employed to extract
material, including blasting, drilling and excavation. They
also work on mineral processing sites where raw
materials are separated out from waste products and
refined for industry use, for example, the production of
aggregates for road construction.
Before a new mine or quarry is opened, engineers are involved in planning feasibility surveys where they employ ground- surveying techniques to assess suitability and geological make-up of a site. Using drilling rigs, earth and rock samples are taken and removed for testing. The results of initial surveys are then drawn up into reports to help managers decide how the project should proceed.
In the design stage engineers decide on the most efficient way of extracting the material or minerals from the ground, for example, analysing the most appropriate way to separate and process raw materials from the rock. Once under construction, engineers work closely with other professionals such as geologists and civil engineers to ensure that work progresses smoothly and that projected costs and deadlines are achieved.
Engineers involved in the day-to-day running and continual maintenance of an operation have responsibility for managing technical staff, producing regular reports, dealing with equipment supplies, and monitoring health and safety, guarding against eventualities such as collapse or flooding.
An increasingly important aspect to the job is the environmental impact that a working mine has on its surroundings. Similarly, once the economic life of the mine has lapsed, engineers have to ensure that the site can be reclaimed for other uses or that the habitat can be returned as closely as possible to its original state.
Fully qualified professional engineers usually hold incorporated or chartered status.
Chartered engineers are normally involved at a strategic planning level, researching and developing new designs, innovations and more efficient processes. They are often project leaders and are responsible for teams of incorporated engineers and technicians.
Incorporated engineers specialise in managing the day-to-day process of applying current engineering solutions in the most cost-effective manner. They often hold key operational management roles.
Mining, minerals and quarry engineers work 35 to 40
hours a week, Monday to Friday. They may work extra
hours to meet deadlines.
Depending on their work, they could be based in an office, laboratory or on site. Protective clothing is worn on site.
Travel overseas for long periods may be involved.
To be a mining and minerals engineer, you should:
Mining, minerals and quarry engineers are employed by
companies involved in mineral production, equipment
supply, research and development, and on a consultancy
basis. There are also openings in general management,
finance and marketing. Opportunities in the UK tend to
centre around quarrying and underground construction
projects; specific mining engineering roles are more
commonly found overseas.
Mining engineers are also well placed to move into related areas such as civil, construction and environmental engineering.
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