What do mining engineers do?

In simple terms, a mining engineer evaluates, plans, and oversees the construction of a mine. However, it’s not really that simple. A mining engineer will be involved in a project through all phases of mining operations – from exploration and discovery of the mineral resource, through feasibility studies, mine design, development of plans and production, scheduling, operations, processing and even marketing. They are still involved at the mine closure stages including final land restoration and rehabilitation.

Project task list for mining engineers

A mining engineer can be involved from start to finish in a mining project. It’s not unusual for a mining engineer to be involved in one or all of the following:

  • Investigate mineral deposits and work with geologists, other earth scientists and economists to evaluate them and determine whether they can be mined profitably.
  • Look at the depth and characteristics of the mineral deposit and its surrounding to work out the most suitable mining method.
  • Carry out the mine design including all the relevant mine planning and scheduling using state-of-the-art mine planning and visualisation software.
  • Plan and coordinate the employment of mining staff and selection of equipment with regard to efficiency, safety and environmental conditions.
  • Talk to geologists and other engineers about the design, selection and provision of equipment, facilities and systems for mining, as well as infrastructure such as access roads, water and power supplies.
  • Oversee, in conjunction with mine management the mine construction and implementation of mine plans.
  • Take on responsibility and leadership for production crews and operational mine performance.
  • Conduct ongoing research aimed at improving efficiency and safety in mines.

Where mining engineers work

Up a mountain, in the desert, across regional Australia or across the world. You’ll probably find a mining engineer in all of those places toiling away on mining projects. So if you love travelling and seeing remote places in the world, you are at a distinct advantage.

Of course, mining engineers can also work in corporate head offices of mining companies – working on mine planning and design, or overseeing the development of mining projects. There’s also work in government departments, consulting or providing crucial information to those who make the big decisions. Sometimes mining engineers specialise in research and work in universities or research centres to find better ways of extraction and processing, and supporting the global industry. Mining engineers also work in financial institutions and insurance companies, specialising in risk analysis and investment. You may even find a mining engineer working in sales or marketing or business development.

Mining engineer job titles

Not all the roles a mining engineer can do have the term ‘mining engineer’ in the title. Far from it in fact. As a mining engineer, you could find your business card contains any one of the following titles:

  • Mine Manager
  • Mine Planner and Designer
  • Management Consultant
  • Operations Manager
  • Technical Services Manager
  • Researcher
  • Investment Analyst and Advisor
  • General Manager
  • Chief Executive
  • Mine Inspector / Government Inspector
  • Consultant
  • Service Provider
  • Production Superintendent
  • Minerals Processing Engineer

Find out how you can study to be a mining engineer at UNSW