Efficient, valuable and safe mining operations are the responsibility of mining engineers. They are the industry experts who come from a geological, mechanical and electrical background. At any point in the mine operation mine engineers should be well prepared to deal with any situation; they are the planners, constructors, designers, and operators. Such professionals also have the responsibility of ensuring safety throughout the operation.
Working with geological and metallurgical engineers to locate and appraise new ore deposits is part of the job description. They may develop innovative equipment and various apparatus for mining with the objective to improve the working environment. Even though most mining engineers spend alot of their time in the office, they also spend ample time on site in order to ensure that specific instructions are being adhered to.
Engineering graduates usually start their experience work under the supervision of experienced mine engineers and are slowly but surely given increased responsibilities as their years in experience increases. The option of moving into administration or management is a high possibility for engineers and more often than not, high-level executives in industry began their careers in engineering.
There are several encouraging factors regarding graduating in mining engineering such as:
- There are various tasks and disciplines to choose from;
- Satisfying benefits ie: housing provision;
- Above average salaries;
- High stimulative environment.
Mining Engineers are put to the challenge more often than anyone external to the industry could understand. Labour issues, ensuring safety for workers underground, extensive working hours, STRICT preparation requirements and continuous education policies are all examples of the challenges that mining engineers have to deal with.
According to several institutions that provide Mining Engineering education programmes, mining engineers should:
– Have the skill to visualise objects three-dimensionally;
– Have good health and stamina;
– Have mathematical and scientific “talent”;
– Have a curious mind;
– Have creativity and acute initiative;
– Have the ability to maintain a calm head and take charge of a situation.
Every unique institution will have its own minimum entry requirements and stipulations however, the following compulsory school subjects are Mathematics and and Physical Sciences. The recommended subjects are Information Technology, Engineering and Technology, Geography and Languages.
So what does training comprise of?
Degree: A Bdegree in Mining Engineering (4 years) and is presented by UJ, UP, UNISA and Wits. This degree is acknowledged internationally. Post successful completion of the degree, candidates must register as engineers-in-training and do a course in Practical Industrial Training. The training program (3 years) is approved by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). After completion of this course graduates can register as professional engineers.
Diploma: A N.Dip. in Mining Engineering is offered at UNISA.
To hold management posts in mines, mining engineers must obtain a Certificate of Competence. After an examination the Mining Engineer presents a Certificate of Competence to the successful candidates. The mining engineering degree gives the candidates exemption from most of the subjects needed to obtain a Certificate of Competency as a Mine Manager. Mining engineers must have a certain amount of practical experience before they can write the examination.
Finally, once you have completed training and enter full-time employment one can expect to be hired by the following categories:
– Mining companies;
– Mining equipment manufacturers and suppliers;
– Universities of technology and universities;
– Private consultants;
– Government mining departments as inspectors;
– Self-employment, can work as an independent consultant for mines.