A wealth of natural resources, including metal ores, diamonds, coal, salt, clay and granite lie beneath the surface of the earth. Mining engineers plan and manage the extraction of these resources safely, cost-effectively and with respect for the environment. To do this they need a broad range of skills and knowledge in subjects such as civil engineering, rock mechanics, geology, finance, law, surveying and management, particularly the environmental and health and safety aspects of management.
Job descriptions vary, and mining engineers may be involved at various stages of the mining process. Their duties could include:
Mining engineers use a range of specialist computer software for many tasks including evaluating, planning, costing and designing mines.
Mining engineers usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Some projects may require extra hours in the evenings or at weekends.
Mining engineers are usually office-based, but they also spend time working on site. The amount of time they spend in each environment varies from job to job.
Mines can be underground or opencast mines, which are on the surface in the open air. Underground work can be hot and dark, although most modern mines have good lighting and temperature control. Working in opencast mining involves spending time outdoors in all weather conditions. The work can involve walking long distances.
Protective clothing is essential when working on site. This includes a hard hat, steel toe-capped boots and a high-visibility jacket.
Jobs based in the UK often involve travel and periods away from home in this country and overseas. Mining engineers are often based abroad, and in some cases in remote areas.
Starting salaries for mining engineers may be around £25,000 a year.
There are around 2,500 mining engineers in the UK. Most of them are based in traditional mining areas such as Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, north-east England, south Scotland and South Wales. However, the greatest demand for mining engineers is overseas, particularly North and South America, South Africa and Australia. They are employed by mining, tunnelling, civil engineering and construction companies.
As the world population grows and more countries become industrialised, there is increased demand for many natural resources. This means that there are good opportunities for mining engineers.
Job vacancies are usually advertised on the websites of employers, specialist recruitment agencies and professional bodies such as the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. They also appear in specialist publications such as Materials World and Mining Journal.
The minimum qualification required to become a mining engineer is a degree.
Full-time degrees in mining engineering are offered by:
Camborne School of Mines (University of Exeter). This is a three-year course leading to a BEng in Mining Engineering. Graduates who achieve a degree classification of 2:1 or above may be eligible to transfer onto the European Mining Course (EMC). Students satisfactorily completing the EMC are awarded an MEng Mining Engineering degree.
The University of Leeds. A three-year course leading to a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) and a four-year course leading to a Master of Engineering (MEng) are available.
Other relevant degree subjects, which may be acceptable, include earth science, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering.
The usual entry requirements for a relevant degree course are three A levels/four H grades, including subjects such as maths, physics or chemistry, with at least five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent.
Entry requirements vary depending on the course, so candidates are advised to check with individual institutions.
Postgraduate qualifications related to mining engineering are available to graduates with a relevant degree. Courses usually last one year full time. Some courses are also available part time.
Mining engineers usually train on the job, under the supervision of more experienced colleagues. They may also be able to study part time for postgraduate qualifications.
Engineers with incorporated or chartered status may have a wider choice of career prospects.
To qualify as an incorporated mining engineer, individuals should:
To qualify as a chartered mining engineer, individuals must:
Ideas and technologies change rapidly in this field, so mining engineers must commit to Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
A mining engineer should:
Promotion prospects for experienced mining engineers include progressing to senior engineering or management positions in the UK or overseas mining industry.
Other opportunities may include moving to careers in related fields such as quarrying or environmental management, or becoming self-employed and offering consultancy services to a range of organisations.
Camborne School of Mines, School of Geography,
Archaeology and Earth Resources,
University of Exeter in Cornwall,
Tremough Campus, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9EZ
Tel: 01326 371800
Engineering Council UK (ECUK),
246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Engineering and Technology Board
Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3),
1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB
Tel: 020 7451 7300
The Institution of Engineering and Technology,
Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way,
Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 313311
School of Process, Environmental and
Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering,
Houldsworth Building, University of Leeds,
Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9JT
Tel: 0113 343 2444
SEMTA (Science, Engineering and
Manufacturing Technologies Alliance),
14 Upton Road, Watford WD18 0JT
Tel: 0800 282167
Women into Science, Engineering and Construction,
2nd Floor, Weston House,
246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0408
Women's Engineering Society,
The IET, Michael Faraday House,
Six Hills Way, Stevenage SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 765506
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.