There are many items we use in our daily life, but we either don’t appreciate their value or don’t even know how they are made altogether. The prime example of this would be petrol in your cars and bikes, the gas you use in your kitchen and everything else. Do you think everything was pre-made for you to use? The answer is “no.” For example, petrol is extracted from the earth’s crust, while gas is extracted from the top of oil reserves, as it floats on top of them. Extracting these resources is not easy and needs the application of science and technology for efficient methods. This is where Mining Engineering comes into the picture. In this article, let us explore what is meant by mining engineering, the degrees, and careers you can obtain in it and what it holds as a job for the future.
Mining Engineering refers to the application of science and technology to extract the minerals inside the earth. In recent years, the mining business has boomed, with more and more people participating in mining activities every day. The reason can be attributed to advancing technology. In earlier times, almost every mining-related work was done using hands. Very minimum tools and machinery were used. But now, the methods of mining have changed a lot. There are big excavators with hydraulic pumps which can cut through large chunks of rocks at once, some extraction methods for minerals like limestone include placing dynamites and detonating them in a carefully planned method, while some need a one time setup and they keep on working for a long time, like oil rigs set up in the oceans. All these have led to very efficient extraction technologies while simultaneously increasing profits.
Around 30 years ago, the average salary of a typical mining engineer was anywhere between $20,000 to $35,000. But according to recent statistics, this average salary has jumped to the range of $95,000 to $103,000. The fact that mining has become easier compared to the past while bringing salary to whopping amounts, making a career in mining engineering would be the best choice to make right now.
But like not everything that glitters is gold, mining engineering is too not free of any drawbacks. It’s only the actual process of mining that has become easier, not the mining itself. Since many of the minerals are depleting at an astonishing rate, you need to find new places to set up mining activities. This needs an extensive study of geological data gathered from satellites. The problem is that newfound reserves are very small compared to previously found ones.
The second problem is depleting resources. It is estimated that within 40 years, our oil reserves will be used up and 50 years before our gas reserves will dry out. We currently have about 280 years before coal reserves diminish.
Still, mining has a great future and a lot of potential of having the highest paid jobs in the world. Let us look at the various types of mining engineering courses available to students to choose from.
Students will need at least a bachelor's degree to continue with mining engineering. They can also cover courses on related subjects like geology, metallurgy, mining operation, environmental reclamation, and mine design.
Mining Engineering is often considered to be the ‘less walked path.’ It is a specialized field that has been gaining many new engineering aspirants in the recent past. With the development of the mineral industry and the scenario around us, in terms of roads, bridges, and others, mining engineering becomes a significant field to approach. It invites some prospects keeping in mind, the industrialized development taking place every day.
For landing into good jobs, you need to earn your degrees in your field of interest first. Since mining is a very complex activity, the jobs available are also diverse. Following are some of the popular degree courses in mining engineering :
Before you start digging the earth for mineral extraction, you need to take care of several things. The nature of rocks, the availability of mineral and whether the construction of mines will be stable, all these need to be addressed beforehand to avoid loss in revenue and human life. That’s what you will learn to analyze in geotechnical engineering. The course aims to help students analyze satellite data and decide if a certain location is safe for mining or not. Some of the sub-courses within this program include groundwater table analysis, climate studies, and land analysis.
After obtaining the ores, extracting the minerals from these ores is necessary. Depending on the type of ore and mining method, different extraction and processing methods are used. For example, iron is extracted using blast furnace while calcium is extracted using calcination. In this bachelor’s degree, you learn the general methods of mineral processing. You are expected to solve the regular problems faced by the industry. Some of the specialization courses you can pursue are extractive metallurgy, geology and geophysics exploration.
You can’t just go anywhere and start mining projects. There are several problems you need to take care of before setting up your mining activities. This degree aims to train students on how to find solutions to various social, political and economic impacts of mining, risk analysis, market analysis and developing strategies to outperform the competition. It sets the basics of managing the mining activities, hence it is one of the easiest and most necessary degrees for any student aiming to work as a manager. You can pick specialization courses after this degree too.
Master’s in metallurgical engineering is the specialization of mineral processing. Many metals are found in ores. For example, an ore of iron is called hematite, an ore of aluminum is called bauxite, etc. Metallurgy deals with the extraction of metal from their ores. Different ores need different extraction methods. There is no “one rule fit all” method. This is because of different chemical properties. This master’s course is designed to teach the students various ore extraction techniques. The research part of this course is focused on finding better ways for extraction so that company profits can be increased.
Mining is not a safe job. There are always one or the other risk involved in its working. This degree is designed to teach the students how to implement risk management systems, ensure the health and safety of on-site workers and try to reduce the impacts of mining on the environment.
Let us explore some of the best colleges providing masters and bachelor’s degrees in mining engineering.
Colorado School of Mines (commonly known as Mines) is the top university for mining engineering, bagging number 1 spot in the QS World Ranking. It is in Golden, Colorado and specializes in mining courses. It's a master's program in petroleum and gas is one of the best in the world.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the world’s most renowned university. It is the best university in the world right now and ranks number one in QS World Ranking overall. It may seem that MIT is only for science and technological studies, but it provides other courses too. MIT provides bachelors and masters programs in mining engineering. It has secured 2nd rank for mining courses in QS World Ranking. If you can make it to MIT, you are guaranteed a good job.
Located right in the middle of Silicon Valley, home to popular companies like Apple, Google, and Yahoo, Stanford University makes it to the list of top universities in the world. With its campus spanning 8180 acres, Stanford boasts of one of the largest campuses of US. It was founded in 1885, making it one of the oldest universities. Stanford University ranks number 2 in QS World Ranking, bagging number 3 for mining engineering. It has several master’s programs in fields like petroleum, metal and mining management.
The University of Cambridge is a research college located in Cambridge, England. It has more than 18000 students from various countries. It was founded in 1209, which makes it one of the oldest universities in the world. QS World Ranking puts it at number 6 overall and number 4 for mining engineering. The master’s degree programs for metallurgy and earth sciences are of quite good and worth your consideration.
The University of Oxford, located in Oxford is the oldest university in the USA, founded in the 11th century (the exact date is unknown). It currently has 22000 students on its campus with more than 40% of students being international. There is no dedicated campus. Instead, the buildings are scattered around the city of Oxford. Having an overall 5th rank and 5th for mining engineering too, it makes the University of Oxford one of the best to gain your degree from.
Mining Engineering is one of the most well-paid jobs in the world. You get the flexibility of choosing a career that suits you best as it provides so many options. But since the resources are exhausting at a very fast rate and only a few years before we run out of them, the future of mining becomes undeterminable. It is possible that you may find some hidden fields of oils and coals in the future and that will be your job as a mining engineer to find efficient ways to extract them. Mining engineering has the potential to give you a competitive salary and job security, but you need a lot of hard work and passion.
Since mining is a complex activity, it provides so many career options to choose from.
Depending on the field of degree you obtain, you are entitled to get many jobs, such as:
A mining engineer designs underground mines and open pits. They simultaneously supervise the constructions of tunnels and mine shafts. They innovate new methods to transport minerals to processing plants.
An assistant mining engineer works with the mining engineer. He has similar but heavier duties as he has to oversee and work with numerous processes involved with mining and also of the final closure.
Petroleum engineers majorly work with geoscientists and few other specialists to understand the nature of the formation of the rock where the reservoir was found. They then implement new drilling methods and monitor their operations.
The geological engineer applies technological methods to human problems. They assess the type of pollution in land and ways to curb the same.
A mining manager looks after all the management of the projects. He assists in outlining and developing new projects and is responsible for its proper management and functioning.
Geotechnical scientists use soil mechanics and rock mechanics to determine the quality of materials on the subsurface.
Environmental scientists analyze environmental problems and provide solutions for it by using principles of engineering, chemistry, soil science, and biology.
A consultant of mining engineering created a layout, directs and supervises the construction of tunnels and shafts. They also design mineral and mining treatment equipment.
A research engineer works under the Research and Development department. They could belong to a variety of research work about mining and geology.
A mine designer works more or less similarly like a mining engineer. The structure and design specific mine equipment invent newer methods for various project work.
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