Mining Engineering - An Important Career

By Carey Bourdier

If we only base real life with reality TV shows we watch today, we may be led to believe that starting up a mine is easy and extracting minerals is definitely possible. Gold can be yours with mere use of basic equipment or, at least, that's what it looks like. It can be quite far from reality, actually, where even large-scale mining companies need mining engineers to help them complete every step of the mining processes.

A mining engineer is a professional who understands the theory and science behind the extraction of minerals, as well as understands the technology needed to retrieve these minerals from a variety of sources. In addition, this person also knows how to process the minerals in a way that maximizes their value. This extraction also must occur with a minimum of damage to the environment so a mining engineer also needs to ensure that the mining operation is safe for the employees as well as the area residents, wildlife, watersheds and flora.

In the United States, we mine for a wide variety of minerals. The minerals in question could be metals such as gold, copper, iron ore, cadmium, silver or other important metals. We also mine for a huge variety of industrial minerals such as gypsum, diatomite, and different types of clay, lime, salt, soda ash, zeolites and dozens of other minerals. In addition to these non-fuel types of minerals, we also mine for petroleum, coal, natural gas and other types of fuel sources. Each type of mining poses its own set of difficulties and restrictions and a mining engineer needs to be able to understand all of these intricacies.

For the initial step in mining, mineral exploration is initiated by the mining engineer where he looks for possible sources of particular fuel or mineral after which he determines the possibility of profit if mining operation be materialized in the area. With this, he needs to create a feasibility study where he discusses the advantages and disadvantages should a mine be operated there and then make recommendations with regards to the possible mine operation in that said place.

Mining engineers not only need at least a four-year degree in mining engineering, many mining engineers also have graduate-level degrees. Some also have degrees in surveying and geology, as well. These engineers are familiar with a large amount of technology as well as many surveying instruments, such as a theodolite, inclinometer and many types of alignment instruments and optical instruments.

You should know that if such a career opportunity be of interest to you, you may be able to find many colleges and universities all over the world you can go to. Why in the United States, the list is longer than a dozen with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Utah, the University of Kentucky, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and the Colorado School of Mines making up some of the slots.

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