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Mining Engineering Technologist


Description

Coal, gold, salt, emeralds, magnesium, diamonds . . . these are just a few examples of minerals and gem deposits that mining engineering technologists extract and test. Mining engineering technologists work with a team of mining engineers to plan and design mines, including location, depth of mine shafts and tunnels. They supervise the extraction of metallic or non-metallic ores from underground or surface mines. Mining engineering technologists also come up with methods for the responsible, safe, economical and environmentally sound operation of mines.

Once they become established, most mining engineering technologists specialize in a specific area such as mine development, safety, production, design, ventilation, water supply, power, communications, maintenance of equipment and mining venture analysis. Also, mining engineering technologists frequently specialize in one particular mineral or metal, such as coal or silver. They become experts within their area of mining and build themselves a reputation for a particular mineral.

With increased emphasis on protecting the environment, many mining engineering technologists work to solve problems related to land reclamation and water and air pollution. They also help engineers design a waste disposal system for the excess waste created when mining. This is a huge challenge for the engineer because waste is a difficult issue to attend to, therefore, the technologist's help is crucial. Mining engineering technologists may be responsible for help to restore the land of the mine site when the mining operation has come to a close.

Before a mining operation begins, the technologist must help conduct important investigative work about the feasibility of opening a mine. They determine whether creating a mine is an economical and safe idea in terms of location and product yield. For example, if a potential coal mine site, located in a remote northern village does not produce high yields, and there is a greater risk of losing money than making a profit, a mining technologist may advise engineers and mining companies against opening one.

Mining engineering technologists use traditional and computer-aided design (CAD) systems to plan and run mining operations. The CAD systems create realistic geometric models of objects which can simulate and analyze the effects and potential problems of designs such as breakdowns.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$36,720
 
Median Salary:
$93,660
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$61,770

  Interests and Skills  
Mining engineering technologists must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills because they constantly deal with technicians, scientists and business clients. They should have a natural aptitude for mathematics and science and be able to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings, which is not an easy task. They should be able to make quick, logical decisions, adapt from an office environment to a laboratory or mine site and be able to supervise and lead others.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Conduct preliminary surveys of ore and mineral deposits to ascertain the economic and environmental feasibility of potential mining operations
  • Determine the most suitable means of safely extracting ore and minerals
  • Help develop plans for the location and construction of mine shafts, tunnels and chambers
  • Ensure that proper drilling and blasting techniques are used
  • Assist in design systems that are best suited to a particular mine's requirements
  • Plan underground openings, open-pit layouts, drainage systems and mine ventilation systems through drawings and computer generated images
  • Supervise and train mine workers with particular emphasis on safety rules
  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of mines
  • Mining engineering technologists usually split their working time among the office, the laboratory and on-site at mines. At mine sites, they are required to wear protective equipment such as safety boots, gloves, hard hats, glasses and hearing protection. They may also work in enclosed or high spaces, which can often be dirty and dusty. Since most mines are located in remote locations, mining engineering technologists must be prepared to travel and fly in and out to on-site work. Office work holds standard hours with overtime work necessary to meet deadlines, whereas field work is generally longer.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Mining engineering technologists generally work where mineral deposits are located -- commonly near small isolated communities. However, mining engineering technologists can also commute from a city by plane to the site. Those engaged in research, design, management, consulting or sales may work in metropolitan areas. Interestingly, not all mining technologists work directly in mines. Mining engineering technologists are most commonly employed by mining, metal, non-metal and coal companies, state or federal governments, equipment manufacturers, consulting companies, engineering contractors, research facilities and universities.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Opportunities for advancement as a mining engineering technologist include becoming a team leader, supervisor or manager in the mining field. With further education, they can become mining engineers and teach at colleges and universities.
 

  Educational Paths  
Mining engineering technologists require the completion of a two- or three-year college program in mining engineering technology or a closely related discipline. Certification in mining engineering technology or in a related field is available through associations of engineering technologists and technicians and may be required by employers. A two-year period of supervised work experience is required before one can become certified as a mining engineering technologist.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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