This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Mining engineers plan, prepare, design and manage the development of opencast (above ground) or underground mines.
Graduate mining engineers usually earn
$70-$75K per year
Experienced mining engineers usually earn
$75K-$140K per year
Source: Hays, '2014 Hays Salary Guide', 2014.
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
Pay for mining engineers varies, depending on experience and level of responsibility.
- Graduate mining engineers start on about $70,000 a year.
- Experienced mining engineers usually earn between $75,000 and $120,000.
- Senior mining engineers usually earn between $95,000 and $140,000.
Source: Hays, '2014 Hays Salary Guide', 2014.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Mining engineers may do some or all of the following:
- prepare designs, plans and schedules for mining operations
- research and develop new mining methods and technology
- determine the equipment needed to create/develop a mine
- prepare reports on proposed mines and their viability
- consult with clients, professionals and government officials
- oversee work at the mine site
- ensure safety and environmental standards are met and maintained
- study ways to improve mining
- carry out economic analysis on mineral deposits
- examine and work towards minimising the impact of mining on the environment.
Skills and knowledge
Mining engineers need to have knowledge of:
- mining methods and different mining processes
- the practical aspects of operating a mine
- geology, maths, physics and chemistry.
- usually work regular business hours, but may work longer hours to meet deadlines, and may also need to be on call
- work in offices, laboratories and mine sites, often in isolated locations
- may work in conditions that are dangerous, noisy and dirty
- may work in cramped or confined conditions in underground mines, or varied weather conditions in opencast mines
- may travel or work overseas.
What's the job really like?
Louise Mowlem - Mining Engineer
What attracted you to mining?
"I always liked maths and science at school in Australia, so when I looked through the courses offered at university, the idea of studying mining appealed the most. I was tossing up between mining engineering and civil engineering, but with civil engineering it seemed to be more of an office job and would probably mean working in the city. With mining I can be on the site, see what's going on and get my hands dirty."
What's the appeal of working in New Zealand?
"The thing that appeals to me about being a mining engineer in New Zealand is that you can work in the mines but not be too isolated."
What is your main project?
"Management of risks in the mine. We pick a risk in the mine and then I go through all the procedures and see how you would use things in best practice. If we follow those procedures, we shouldn't have any problems with it."
Plans for the future?
"There's a lot of variety in what I get to do and also so many areas I can go into after mining. One day I'd really like to be a mine manager."
To become a mining engineer you must complete a Bachelor of Engineering Technology or a Bachelor of Engineering. Major subjects in these degrees should include one of:
- mechanical engineering
- environmental engineering
- natural resource engineering.
However, some mining companies employ geology graduates who then study to complete mining engineer qualifications.
Undergraduates must gain some practical experience while studying, and this is usually organised as part of their engineering course.
Graduate or postgraduate mining engineer study common
Mining engineers usually spend an additional two to three years on a graduate or postgraduate mining engineer programme. This involves training and gaining experience by working alongside miners, surveyors and geologists, before they become fully qualified. As there is no mining-specific postgraduate degree available in New Zealand, mining engineers sometimes undertake distance study with an overseas tertiary institute while working in New Zealand.
NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Maths with calculus and physics are required to enter the Bachelor of Engineering programme. Chemistry and geography are also recommended.
Mining engineers need to be:
- skilled at project management, people management and leadership
- skilled at writing proposals and making presentations
- able to identify, analyse and solve problems
- creative, practical and efficient
- able to remain calm in emergencies, and work well under pressure
- able to act on their own initiative, and as part of a team
- skilled at finance and budgeting.
Communication skills are very important, especially writing skills, because you need to write your plans in a way that everybody can understand.
Louise Mowlem - Mining Engineer
Experience in mining, quarrying or construction is useful, as is a strong interest in geology and civil engineering.
Mining engineers need to be reasonably fit as they may spend a lot of time walking at mine sites.
Find out more about training
- (04) 473 2023 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.futureintech.org.nz/
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for mining engineers in New Zealand have been affected by:
- poor prices for coal and gold
- closure of some mines and a major coal mining company.
However, mining tends to be a cyclical industry, and some opportunities for mining engineers may result from the exploration of new gold mining sites.
Mining engineers work for coal and gold mining firms
Most mining engineers in New Zealand are employed by large coal or gold mining companies. Some mining engineers work on contract for smaller businesses.
- Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 'The AusIMM Professional Employment Survey 2015', October 2015, (www.ausimm.co.au).
- Hays, 'The 2015 Hays Salary Guide: Resources and Mining', 2015, (www.hays.net.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- MITO, 'Investment Plan 2014', 2014, (www.mito.org.nz).
- Otago Daily Times, 'Patient Optimists Hunker Down', 7 September 2015, (www.odt.co.nz).
- Solid Energy, 'Continuous Disclosure', accessed September 2015, (www.solidenergy.co.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Mining engineers can become self-employed and work as independent consultants for mines or be employed on a contractual basis. They can also progress to become mine or quarry managers.
Mining engineers may specialise in the following areas:
- Academic and Research Mining Engineer
- Academic and research mining engineers often work in universities or research centres. They may specialise in fields such as rock engineering, mining economics, or geology project design.
- Coal Mining Engineer
- Coal mining engineers work in open pit or underground mines and tend to use a variety of mining methods.
- Consultant Mining Engineer
- Mining engineers who work as consultants are involved in a wide variety of projects, mining methods and different technical areas. They use computer programs to model the mining process and design, and can work on open pit and underground mines.
- Open Pit Mining Engineer
- Open pit mining engineers work in surface mines that are open to the daylight, such as quarries. These mines may also be referred to as open-cut or opencast mines.
- Underground Mining Engineer
- Underground mining engineers work in deep mines that are usually located several hundred feet underground. The minerals in these mines are removed mechanically and transferred by shuttle car or conveyor to the surface.
Last updated 8 December 2016