“For a miner must have the greatest skill in his work, that he may know first of all what mountain or hill, what valley or plain, can be prospected most profitably, or what he should leave alone; moreover he must understand the veins, stringers and seams in the rocks.” – Georgius Agricola
Despite representing one of the world’s most ancient industries, mining still plays a significant role in modern life. Everything we need comes, in one form or another, from Earth’s natural resources; from roads and buildings to Smartphones and machines, the things we use on a daily basis would not be available without the products that come from mining. Mining engineers play a major role in allowing us to improve the way we live.
And as the world population rises, so does the demand for mineral resources. To meet these needs, industry looks to mining engineers to find the most responsible way of obtaining minerals from the environment. In general terms, mining engineers are responsible for the economic production of the Earth’s minerals from metal ores, to energy sources like coal and oil, to industrial minerals and precious and strategic materials such as lanthanides and noble metals.
Mining Engineering is an excellent career choice for students who have an appreciation of the great outdoors, as the job requires on-site supervision of the mining operation. The nature of the work frequently gives opportunities to travel internationally – a rewarding experience for any graduate job seeker. But that’s not all that makes mining such a versatile occupation…
For students who prefer working in other industry regions, a mining engineering degree can open the door to other sectors, like mine planning and design, safety and health, materials handling, rock mechanics, blasting, environmental protection, reclamation or management.
Students find positions in not only mining industries, but other environmental exploration industries, large construction and geoengineering projects, and space exploration.
Ready to dig deep and find out which world-class university has the right program for you? Here are four institutions that are preparing students for a rewarding career in mining:
Establishing its first School of Mines in 1901, the University of Utah boasts a long tradition of providing students with a comprehensive education that meets contemporary needs. Today, the College of Mines and Earth Sciences is located in a mineral and energy-rich geographic location that serves as a study and research environment extending far beyond campus boundaries. At the University of Utah, students can pursue an undergraduate degree in Mining Engineering, with a well-balanced curriculum that includes classroom lectures, laboratory and fieldwork, and a senior design project. Students also have the chance to choose specialisations like surveying, underground and surface mining methods, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, engineering design, ventilation and more. One exciting aspect of study in this department is the study of robotics and automation. The Utah Robotic Mining Project is an exciting opportunity for students to develop skills in robotics, autonomous mining, and engineering project management while simultaneously engaging the community in fostering an understanding about the role of mining and robotics in our daily lives.
But if your interest lies within metallic elements, the College offers a Metallurgical Engineering degree involving the study, innovation, design, implementation, and improvement of processes that transform mineral resources and metals into useful products. Here, the faculty believes in preparing students for productive and life-long careers in mining and related industries or disciplines. “My two favourite things about the department are the tight-knit camaraderie among students and the faculty and staff that are focused on employment,” says Sheldon Kargis, a mining engineering student.
Understanding the challenges of producing natural resources for the global population, the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering (EME) strives to educate the next generation of mining engineering students to search for an affordable supply of energy and minerals, while protecting the environment and the health and safety of the workforce. EME offers several engineering programs, including Mining Engineering. This degree integrates the fundamentals of mathematics, earth, and engineering sciences into traditional mining engineering topics, as well as the process involved in mineral extraction.
Students on the program will be taught through problem-based learning and interactive classes where lecturers will have time to speak to students individually. Lessons also go beyond the classroom walls, with students having the chance to participate in a variety of activities that complement the classroom experience. The Department also has a number of research facilities, including surface mining software which educates students in computer-aided surface mind design, calculation, and selection of appropriate surface mining systems. And to ensure that students are employable, EME encourages them to pursue internship positions that can offer invaluable work experience within their field of choice.
Consistently ranked within the top 40 of the world’s best higher learning institutions, the University of British Columbia’s Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering (NBK Institute) is one of North America’s largest and most advanced centres for mining engineering education and research. The Department offers a broad Mining Engineering degree that integrates courses on engineering principles, earth sciences, mining, and mineral processing with content covering health, safety, management, economics, and environmental and social issues. Students will learn through a combination of lectures, case studies, field trips, and design projects.
At UBC, students are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to meet a wide range of challenges, from building mines in remote areas to finding ways to reduce the environmental and social impact of mining operations. The prestigious Faculty also invites guest speakers to grant students a unique insight into the mining business. The institute also offers excellent courses and cutting-edge research work across a spectrum of disciplines for students eager to further their studies after their undergraduate degree. Students can choose from Masters of Engineering in Mining, Master of Applied Science in Mining, and Doctorate of Philosophy in Mining.
This reputable institution, which is part of Australia’s Group of Eight, has a long history of producing good engineering degrees and employable graduates. Students who are thinking of applying here will be pleased to know that the 2016 QS World University Rankings places the School’s Minerals and Mining degree in the top 20 for Best Subjects. The course offers students a comprehensive understanding of how complex mining systems work together to service the global need for minerals, while providing students with a solid foundation in fundamental engineering principles and essential elements of mining like geomechanics, ventilation, mine planning and mineral processing.
In addition to classroom work, students will also participate in an 80-day approved industry training placement to prepare them for the real world. For students wanting to enhance their academic experience, the School also offers dual degrees combining Mining Engineering with either Civil or Petroleum Engineering. Pursuing a degree at the UNSW can also lead to a Masters qualification, postgraduate coursework and research study. Plus, the School boasts excellent links with the mining industry, giving students plenty of support in the form of scholarships, research and regular mining field trips.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International