What is minerals & mining engineering?

All of the materials we use around us originate from the ground. Mining and minerals engineers must develop economically and environmentally responsible ways of extracting these valuable resources. Mining engineers work with metal ores, diamonds, oil, coal, clays, limestone and granites to name but a few. Their primary responsibility is to safely extract these valuable minerals from the ground. This can involve working on the surface in strip mines, open pits or quarries, or deep underground where the temperature is high and there are large stresses on the rocks. Mining engineers require a knowledge of engineering, rock mechanics, geology, economics, surveying and management.

Once the mining engineers have safely extracted the minerals from the ground it is over to the minerals engineers, who are responsible for winning the valuable resources from their primary ores. A combination of physical, chemical and biological processes can be employed to do this, such as heating, dissolution, reduction, or electrolysis. The minerals engineer must understand which method or combination of techniques will be most effective at producing the maximum yield.

As our demand for minerals increases and our sources of primary ores are depleted, recycling and reclamation are becoming increasingly important. New developments allow resources to be extracted from contaminated land, domestic waste and the waste from previously mined deposits. It is also vital that former quarry and mine sites are restored to their original state.