So we know that Mining engineers are well paid these days, but what do they actually do? Here’s a job description for those who are interested.
Definition and Nature of Work
Mining engineers plan mining operations and design underground and surface mines. They also design mining equipment and supervise technicians and workers who use it. Most mining engineers work for firms in the coal and metal industries. Some specialize in just one of these industries. Engineers can work for companies that make mining equipment. Others work for government agencies that regulate the mining industry.
When new deposits of ore are discovered, mining companies send engineers to determine whether the deposits can be mined profitably. Engineers study maps, waterways, and samples of rock. They also meet with scientists and government officials. If the mining engineers decide that the deposits can be mined profitably, they begin to plan mining operations. If an underground mine is to be used, engineers design mine shafts and tunnels. If the situation calls for surface mining, the engineers decide where to dig the pits and where to put the rock and soil that are removed during the mining process.
Mining engineers supervise the mining operation. They train crews of workers and supervisors. Engineers and engineering technicians inspect mines to make sure that the roofs of underground mines are supported correctly and that the air in mine shafts does not contain poisonous gases. These engineers may also inspect and repair mining equipment. Some mining engineers help to plan ways of restoring the land around mine sites so that it can be used for other purposes.
Mining engineers may specialize in designing equipment used to excavate and operate mines. This equipment includes ventilation systems, earth- and rock-moving conveyors, and underground railroads and elevators. Engineers also design equipment that chips and cuts rocks and coal. Others select explosives used to blast ore deposits.
Mining engineers also work for firms that sell mining supplies and equipment. Experienced mining engineers teach in colleges and universities and serve as consultants to industry and government.
Mining engineers usually work with several other engineers and technicians or supervise small crews of workers and technicians. Most mining engineers divide their time between their offices and the mine shafts or pits. Engineers may be required to travel several times per year to study methods and inspect equipment that might be useful in their mines. Most engineers work forty hours a week. However, engineers whose mines operate around the clock can expect some shift work.