Mining can be an exciting and profitable career path for geologists. While the job market for mining geologists is cyclical, fluctuating along with the commodities market, mining geologists fulfill vital roles in industry and will always be in demand to some extent. They not only determine where the most substantial and profitable deposits are, they make sure mine operations run efficiently, and most importantly, safely.
A report issued by the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration in January 2012 titled “Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Mining Industry,” indicates that the mining job market is growing and there isn’t enough skilled labor to meet the demand. With only 14 accredited mining and mineral engineering programs at U.S. colleges and universities, the labor shortage will likely continue, increasing opportunities for those who do enter the market. With several career options to choose from in the mining industry, pursuing a degree in geology may be for you.
How Do I Get Started?
To start a career in mining geology, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in geology. An engineering, mining engineering, or geological engineering degree is required for mining and geological engineers, but research jobs often require a Ph.D. Field experience is just as important; many mining geologists suggest choosing a school with a strong emphasis on field work, as well as pursuing summer internships to gain a solid foundation in real world experience. Continuing education is also important to keep up with the continually changing technology. In some states and countries, geologists have to be registered with a professional organization in order to work as a “Professional Geologist” (called P.Geo).
What Are Some of the Career Paths for Geologists in the Mining Industry?
Exploration Geology: As an exploration geologist, you can expect to travel to some remote regions or even relocate to live at the mine site. Depending on your contract, life at the site could mean 10-12 hour days in two-week long shifts followed by one week off. Exploration geologists are responsible for locating commodities such as gold, copper, oil and gas, and other minerals, metals, and rare earth elements used by utilities and manufacturing industries. They work primarily in the field to identify and assess new ore deposits, and return to a field lab or home office to prepare computer models and reports on the data they collect. They also develop extraction strategies, supervise the extraction process, and evaluate the material recovered.
Petroleum Geology: A petroleum geologist specializes in figuring out where oil deposits are, how much oil is there, and whether or not it can be extracted. Petroleum geologists may work on site examining rocks, cuttings, and cores, or they may work in an office analyzing geophysical logs.
Mining and Geological Engineering: As a mining engineer, you may find yourself supervising the construction and operation of open-pit and underground mines. You may be responsible for ensuring that the mine site is safe by identifying hazardous conditions and developing processes and technologies for improved employee safety and regulatory compliance. Some mining and geological engineers develop transportation methods to deliver minerals to processing plants. They may even develop new mining equipment. Mining and geological engineers may also get involved in quality control, or the environmental aspects of mining to address pollution and land reclamation issues, merging mining geology with environmental geology, another branch of geology field.
Manufacturing: Geologists may even be employed by instrument and equipment manufacturers to help develop new mining products and applications or to work with customers. This post describes just some of the many interesting options available to you as a mining geologist. For more interesting articles and helpful information about all aspects of mining, keep reading this blog.
Our next blog will address Advancing Your Mining Career. Learn about some of the tools and technologies mining geologists use every day on site. Are you a mining geologist? Let us know what you do on a daily basis to better inform those thinking this might be the right career for them.