Mining engineer jobs can include everything from oil and minerals exploration to mine construction and overseeing regulatory or safety requirements. Some mining engineers design the equipment used to locate and extract materials such as coal, gold, stone, oil and natural gas. The work can also involve designing underground or surface mines and supervising and training those who work in the mines or operate the equipment used to extract the materials.
Many mining engineer jobs begin when a mining company finds new deposits or sources for the materials it wishes to extract. A mining engineer will determine if the site will produce enough materials to bring in a profit for the mining company. This is done by studying maps of land and waterways and by taking samples. Then the engineer will determine how the mine will be constructed and how the resources will be removed.
Some mining engineer jobs involve designing the equipment used for mining. For example, an underground mine might need an underground railway system for navigation and moving materials. Equipment that tests underground air quality or provides ventilation is also required. Equipment that can cut through or blast through rock is also used for some mining operations, and mining engineers can design equipment specific to the particular operation's needs.
Other mining engineer jobs require restoring or cleaning up after an excavation is completed. The cleanup might be done for cosmetic or safety reasons. In some cases, it might even be necessary to rid land or water of residual pollutants caused by the mining operation.
Consulting for governmental agencies is another option. For example, a mining engineer might work with an agency to determine new safety practices or ways to best handle mining waste and help protect the environment. Two examples are designing draining systems and cleaning up trace minerals.
Mining engineer jobs in the field will usually require at least a four-year degree in engineering. Excelling in an engineering program requires having a strong aptitude for mathematics and science, including geology and physics. A master’s degree or doctorate is often required for consultant or research positions in the field or in a classroom. In some cases, licensing is also required.
In addition to technical skills in math or science, mining engineer jobs require good communication skills. Mining engineers often work with other engineers and oversee work crews. Depending on the setting, there can be opportunities to advance into high-level management positions, as well.