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Careers in Geoscience: Mining

Home > Careers in Geoscience > Mining

Careers in Geoscience: Mining

Mine Geologists are employed by organisations working in the minerals sector. They are part of a multi-disciplinary team responsible for defining the location, quantity and quality of the mineral commodity being extracted; contributing to the efficient planning, extraction and processing of that commodity; then reconciling the actual production versus what was predicted from the geological model.. Their work is mostly site based and consists of near-mine exploration, resource definition drilling, resource estimation, production control, reconciliation and reporting. Their tasks may include open pit and underground geological mapping and sampling; drill planning, execution, logging and sampling; geophysical data collection; data integration and analysis, computer-assisted geological interpretation, modelling and estimation of Mineral Resources; and continuous liaison with other disciplines to ensure the mine operates efficiently.

Activities

Includes mining and extraction of mineral commodities such as precious metals (e.g. gold and silver), base and ferrous metals (e.g. copper, lead, zinc, nickel, iron ore), energy minerals (e.g. coal, oil shale), bulk minerals (e.g. bauxite and phosphate) and industrial minerals (e.g. limestone, graphite, aggregate).

Typical duties include:

  • Project planning and management
  • Planning and executing near-mine exploration programs to discover and define new resources using geology, geochemistry, geophysics and drilling
  • Planning and executing resource-infill drilling programs to increase the confidence in the resources to facilitate detailed mine planning and scheduling
  • Geological logging, sampling, analysis and interpretation of all drilling data
  • 3D geological interpretation and modelling of lithology, alteration, structure, weathering and mineralisation
  • Mineral Resource estimation and reporting
  • Production control, such as grade control drilling, mapping, sampling, mining block layouts, supervision of mining activities
  • Preparing routine daily/weekly/monthly and annual reports
  • Liaising with mine production staff, other mine-based technical and non-technical staff, and external service providers.
Skills Required

The role can carry a moderate-high level of responsibility because the Mine Geologist provides essential input to Mine Engineers and Metallurgists as part of a team managing the design and execution of a continuous mining operation. Therefore, Mine Geologists need to provide timely advice and information as required to ensure there are no delays in the mining process. Consequently, sound professional and technical skills, time management and project management skills are an important feature of the job.

Typical skills required are:

  • Knowledge of a range of sciences and their applications
  • Ability to work within a multi-disciplinary team of surveyors, engineers, metallurgists, environmental scientists and various non-technical professions
  • Good time management and organisational skills
  • Computer literacy and ability to analyse numerical and graphical data
  • Ability to think and visualise in 3D
  • Good written and verbal communication skills
  • Geological mapping, rock recognition, structural geology, knowledge of geochemistry and geophysics, GIS and spatial skills.

 

 

 

University unit suggestions

Core Subjects
geology
structural geology
sedimentology
mineral identification
economic geology
petrology
Specialty Subjects
geochemistry
geophysics
GIS
statistics
engineering
mineralogy economics

 

Statutory Requirements

Competent person for reporting to ASX is required to have at least five years’ experience in the commodity and activities engaged in (generally recognised by membership level of AIG as a minimum requirement).
Transitioning to Full Member

Full members of the AIG can sign off on ASX reports given that they have sufficient experience to satisfy the “competent person” designation (under the JORC Code 2012) for the commodity and information on which they are reporting.  A Graduate Member can transition to Full Membership once they have achieved a minimum of five years relevant experience.

The JORC Code states that “a Competent Person must have a minimum of five years relevant experience in the style of mineralisation or type of deposit under consideration and in the activity which that person in undertaking”. Further information can be obtained from the JORC website and copies of the code can be downloaded.

 

Job Opportunities

Mining geologists are typically employed by junior, mid tier and major mining companies. To a lesser extent, contracting, consulting and service companies, government organisations and applied research groups (e.g. CSIRO and CRCs) employ mining geologists.

 

Lifestyle

 

 

Residential/Lifestyle Options

  • More likely based in capital city (fly in fly out) or as residential/regional centre (e.g Kalgoorlie, Mt Isa, Orange, Bendigo) with work areas either locally or remote
  • Fly in Fly out or drive in drive out on set roster system
  • Often involves up to 70% field time in early years reducing to around 20% experienced and management geoscientists

Pros & Cons

Opportunities
  • Potential for domestic and international travel
  • Varied work programs
  • Varied commodities and geological/mineralisation settings
  • Multi skilling and multi-disciplinary teamwork required

 

Drawbacks
  • Absence from home when rostered on in a fly/drive in, fly/drive out operation, or if living in a residential role near the mine
  • 10-12 hour rosters and possibly shift work may be required
  • Often located in remote locations and include varied working/living conditions

FAQs

Do you work a regular length day/week?

Mine geologists are often are based in major cities and travel to their work sites on rosters/cycles which can vary but commonly are 2/1 (2 weeks working followed by 1 week off) or 8/6 (8 days working followed by 6 days off). They may also be residential or regionally based with work areas locally.  When residential based they may have a regular day (although often shift based and up to 12 hours per shift) and a more regular week (weekends off). Where regionally based they may work at site during the week but have regular weekends off.

How much time do you spend on site?

A graduate geoscientist can expect to spend up to 70% of their time on site operations reducing to around 20% for experienced and management geoscientists.

What is the career progression in mineral exploration?

Graduate or Junior Mine Geologist

Mine or Projects Geologist

Senior Mine Geologist

Chief Mine Geologist

Technical Services Manager

Technical or Managing Director

How do Mine Geologists interact with other mining personnel?

Mine Geologists are an integral part of a mining team environment.  They provide essential input to Mine Engineers and Metallurgists and need to provide timely advice and information to ensure the mining operation is a continuous process and are therefore an important part of the mine management and planning teams.

Should I  do science at school?

Yes, a solid grounding of mathematics and science (in particular chemistry and physics) is important for all areas of geoscience practice. If Geology/Earth Science is available at school level it is highly recommended.

Do I need to be physically fit?

Working as a geoscientist can be physically demanding.  Field work generally involves various physical activities particularly in remote areas. Whether it be walking to get to a site, mapping, collecting and carrying samples, working around drill site or working from 4WD vehicles or helicopters a good level of fitness is generally required.

As a geoscientist do you work with new technology?

Geoscience is often at the cutting edge of new technology.  Many of the current gaming platforms were developed from 3D computing technology developed within the mining industry. New technologies are constantly being used and developed within the geoscience professions to enhance our knowledge of the earth. Modelling techniques, visualisation and the use of mobile technology are widely used.

Videos

The following are video and You Tube links that are relevant to this career path.

AIG Career Session 3; Mineral Exploration and Mining

Planned for 22nd July

 

Fact Sheets

See also sheets for related career paths