Category Archive: Mining & Geological Engineering

  1. Careers in Mining, Geological, Geophysical, and Metallurgical Engineering

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    In today’s world of high-speed international transactions and data-driven innovation, it can be easy to overlook the wealth beneath our feet. Nonetheless, mineral extraction remains a cornerstone of the national and global economies. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, mines nationwide produced about $82.2 billion in materials in 2018.

    The mining industry provides the raw materials that enable continuing economic growth and technological development, from the aluminum used to construct airplanes to the copper for electronic connectors and circuitry. For engineers, mineral extraction also offers a variety of opportunities for rewarding careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top industries where mining and geological engineers find employment are:
    careers in mining engineering

    • Engineering services
    • Metal ore mining
    • Oil and gas extraction
    • Coal mining
    • Government

    Mining, geological, geophysical, and metallurgical engineers take on the complex challenges involved in mining and construction projects. With sophisticated technical skills and scientific knowledge, you can contribute to making all the processes involved in extracting, transporting, and refining essential resources as safe and efficient as possible.

    Related Content: How to Evaluate Graduate Mining Programs

    Mining Engineering Careers

    Mining engineers design and develop mines to function efficiently while minimizing dangers to employees and the environment. In many cases, they specialize in locating and processing a single type of metal or mineral. Careers in mining engineering can also require monitoring sites and managing relevant data, planning construction and operations to optimize productivity and profitability.

    Mining Engineering Job Descriptions

    What does a mining engineer do each day? Their roles can vary and involve many different aspects of finding ore deposits, managing extraction or developing the next generation of equipment. Experts in mining take on responsibilities like:

    • Assessing the feasibility of a new site
    • Designing mines and developing transportation to processing plants
    • Supervising the building of shafts and tunnels
    • Writing technical reports
    • Monitoring and evaluating mining operations
    • Addressing the potential environmental impact of mines
    • Collaborating with geoscientists and metallurgical engineers

    Mining engineers can be critical to establishing and enforcing environmentally and socially conscious practices. Specialists in sustainable resource development understand the impact that mining operations can have on local people, plants and wildlife. Calling upon a combination of technical knowhow and environmental science allows organizations to make use of minerals for years without exhausting supplies or causing long-term damage in a region.

    Mines can be hazardous places to work due to risks like contaminants in the air, collapse, fire and flood. Mining safety engineers protect the well-being of workers and ensure that facilities meet all legal requirements. They may be employed by mining businesses or the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that sets and enforces rules governing safety and health in all U.S. mines.

    A mine safety engineer may be tasked to:

    • Check the structural integrity of roofs and walls in mines
    • Track ventilation and air quality in mines
    • Inspect mine equipment
    • Ensure compliance with federal and state regulations

    Mining Engineering Salaries (Entry Level)

    Job Title Average Salary
    Mining Engineer $64,249
    Engineering Manager $89,092
    Safety Manager $52,209

    Source: Payscale

    Geological Engineering Careers

    Geological engineers synthesize concepts from mining engineering with approaches from disciplines such as petroleum and civil engineering. Drawing on an extensive knowledge of earth science, they locate ore deposits and evaluate whether an area is suitable for mining operations.

    Geological Engineering Job Description

    Mining organizations rely on geological engineers to find sites and establish best practices for responsibly extracting minerals while addressing concerns about safety and sustainability. With expertise in geomechanics, engineers can manage the unique behaviors and properties of rock masses and inform decisions about mining operations and safety protocols.

    Careers with a degree in geological engineering call for:

    • Implementing technology to locate minerals and calculate reserves
    • Using software tools to gather and analyze data on environmental factors that could impact projects
    • Clearly communicating expectations for productivity and the costs of extraction
    • Checking sites for potentially dangerous geological conditions

    Training and experience as a geological engineer may lead to other positions that call for related skillsets. For example, geotechnical engineering is a field under the umbrella of civil engineering that concentrates on how the characteristics of soil and rock can affect building plans. Meanwhile, project engineers apply their technical knowledge to manage teams through all the phases of design and construction, ensuring that outcomes meet an organization’s needs.

    Geological Engineering Salaries (Entry Level)

    Job Title Average Salary
    Geological Engineer $64,249
    Project Engineer $58,826
    Geotechnical Engineer $59,092

    Source: Payscale

    Geophysical Engineering Careers

    Professionals in geophysical engineering jobs specialize in solving problems by applying geophysics, the analysis of the planet’s physical characteristics and processes. Engineers assist in finding resources and developing the best means for extraction. They may also contribute to the building processes for infrastructure like roads, dams and tunnels.

    Geophysical Engineering Job Description

    What can you do with a geophysical engineering degree? The insights offered by exploration geophysics allow organizations to identify physical features beneath the Earth’s surface, including ores, groundwater and fossil fuels. Experts in the discipline may take on responsibilities like:

    • Using an array of software and hardware tools to take electromagnetic, seismic, gravitational, magnetic, and electrical readings
    • Conducting surveys to locate resources
    • Taking measurements and generate images to map subsurface features
    • Tracking the environmental effects of mining activities
    • Investigating potential sites for building or mining and reporting on findings

    Geophysical Engineering Salaries

    Job Title Average Salary
    Entry-Level Geophysical Engineer $54,133
    Mid-Career Geophysical Engineer $75,908

    Source: Economic Research Institute

    Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Careers

    Experts in ore and mineral processing can make mining operations more efficient and environmentally responsible. By applying their knowledge of how to separate minerals and metals from their ores, professionals in extractive metallurgy develop innovative solutions to some of the industry’s most pressing challenges.

    Metallurgical Engineering Job Description

    Metallurgical engineers use methods such as flotation, solution mining, and hydrometallurgy to recover metals and minerals. Mineral processing experts employ equipment like spectrographs and x-ray machines to gain insights as they look for opportunities to improve these processes and ensure the safety of workers. Engineers analyze mining operations to solve problems, offer technical support, and implement best practices.

    Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy Salaries (Entry Level)

    Job Title Average Salary
    Metallurgical Engineer $65,689
    Mining Superintendent $70,165

    Source: Payscale

    Engineering professionals can play a vital role in discovering and harnessing the resources in the planet’s crust. Mining, geological, geophysical, and metallurgical engineers use their scientific knowledge of the Earth and their skills with analytical tools to provide organizations with invaluable information. You can prepare to excel in these roles by learning safe, conservation-minded approaches to unlock the wealth of minerals beneath us.

    About the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering at the University of Arizona

    The University of Arizona Department of Mining and Geological Engineering has a history dating back to 1891. Today, the department equips students with the latest techniques in analysis, modeling and simulation. Taught by a faculty of leading experts with extensive industry experience, our courses connect technical skills with scientific knowledge, readying professionals to excel in tomorrow’s mining organizations.

    Students can pursue an online Master of Engineering in Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering or a variety of graduate certificates:

  2. How to Evaluate Graduate Mining Programs

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    School of Mining
    Just as the mining industry has a deep, rich history in the United States, so do schools of mining and colleges of engineering that offer degrees and certificate programs in the discipline. In fact, the University of Arizona’s history is integrated with that of the first mining schools in the country. When it first opened its doors in October 1891, the university’s first approved curricula were in agriculture, engineering and mining.

    Since then, the University of Arizona has retained the legacy of its original school of mining and agriculture, while expanding to become a first-tier academic and research institution that brings world-class expertise across many disciplines together. Today, the UA’s original school of mines legacy is continued within the Department of Mining & Geological Engineering and through the broader College of Engineering.

    Mining Education and Careers Today

    Graduate-level mining education presents an attractive path for students who are interested in applying mineral, engineering and geological knowledge to an industry setting. For example, not only do mining engineers command a salary of $93,720, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mining specialists have considerable flexibility in terms of the type of work they do; their responsibilities can range from implementing safety procedures to determining the value of extracted resources to managing cost and other financial elements of their organizations.

    However, there are multiple ways of entering the field, and drastically different programs from each department of mining to consider. There are several key considerations to make when selecting which program is right for you:

    Mining Curriculum

    Graduate school of mining, engineering and geoscience programs can vary greatly depending on the department’s focus area, the specialization within the program as well as the sophistication of the university’s mining program. However, most programs will offer individual courses in one or more of the following areas:

    • Mining engineering management
    • Environmental health and sustainability
    • Health and safety
    • Geometallurgy
    • Geomechanics
    • Mineral processing and extraction
    • Rock mechanics
    • Big data and AI in mining
    • Financial management in the mining industry
    • Underground and surface design
    • Mine and equipment operations
    • Blasting and rock excavation
    • Ore deposits and geology
    • Geopositioning and mine ventilation

    Some mining programs focus solely on one or two of these subject areas, with multiple courses covering different aspects within each area. Other programs have courses that comprehensively cover nearly every aspect of mining and the mining industry. At first glance, it may seem challenging to tell whether a specific mining graduate program is right for you. However, there are a couple questions you can ask yourself to guide your decision.

    Questions to ask when evaluating graduate mining programs

    1. Do I need a mining engineering certificate or a master’s-level mining degree?

    The best place to start is by considering where you are in your career now and where you want to go. If you’re looking for specialized knowledge in a particular discipline within mining, for example, you can augment your existing expertise with a graduate certificate in mining. Graduate certificates in mining also present excellent options if you’re looking for rapid career advancement, since they require a shorter time commitment than a master’s program. However, the flexibility of most graduate certificates also allows students to apply credit earned in these programs to master’s programs if they decide to pursue a master’s degree at the same school.

    Master of mining, Master of Engineering in Mining and geological engineering programs are geared toward individuals who want to gain comprehensive knowledge and skills to position themselves for high career mobility. Since many master’s programs offer emphasis areas, you can still obtain specialized knowledge in areas that interest you the most while still gaining the broader knowledge to understand organization- and industry-wide concerns.

    2. Should I earn a specialized master’s degree in mining or a broader engineering degree?

    Although many engineering programs offer coursework that is applicable to mining engineering, broader programs do not often have the depth of knowledge for those who wish to pursue higher-level executive and technical careers in mining. For instance, systems engineering programs offer simulation modeling and analysis courses, but Master of Engineering in mining programs will also provide the practical knowledge of how different modeling techniques apply to resource extraction in the mining industry.

    More specialized departments have a variety of options for customizing programs, such as through different emphasis areas or a larger selection of electives. Some of the other advantages of a dedicated mining graduate program include:

    • Many faculty members with specialized expertise
    • Knowledge of cutting-edge equipment and practices in the industry
    • Larger breadth of industry expertise across all coursework
    • Direct connections to industry via business partnerships, faculty, and alumni

    Mining courses from general engineering programs may be valuable if you have a specific area of interest and can find a program with a specialization option to match your passion. However, Master of Engineering in Mining programs will have a more extensive selection of relevant courses and more options for specialization so that you can gain more broadly applicable knowledge without sacrificing depth of expertise.

    About the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering at the University of Arizona

    The University of Arizona has held a unique position in the history of mining in the United States. When it first opened in 1891, UA’s school of mines welcomed students interested in topics ranging from ore analysis to metallurgy.

    The school was renamed to the University of Arizona College of Mines in 1915, and it became one of the first of its kind. After a period of rapid expansion, the college merged with UA’s school of engineering to form the University of Arizona School of Mines and Engineering, one of the first comprehensive mineral resource and extraction education departments in the nation.

    As a result, the department has attracted some of the foremost experts in field as well as faculty with extensive experience working in the mining and geology industries. This has allowed the program to evolve with the modern world of mining, while retaining the breadth of knowledge and legacy of a top-tier institution.

    These advancements and modernized curriculum, which includes techniques in analysis, modeling and simulation, have made UA’s program one of the most comprehensive mining and engineering programs available. The department of mining and engineering remains part of the University of Arizona’s larger College of Engineering, which the U.S. News & World Report ranks as one of the top engineering schools in the nation.

    The online Master of Mining, Geological and Geophysical Engineering not only helps students build depth of knowledge, it offers significant flexibility through an extensive selection of electives and emphasis areas, ranging from mining information technology to sustainable resource development. University of Arizona’s mineral process and extractive metallurgy emphasis area is one of the only programs of its kind and provides extensive technical knowledge for students interested in mining as well as the broader physical sciences.