Below are frequently asked questions and answers relating to the MINE program.
What is Mining Engineering?
Mining engineering includes everything to do with the extraction of mineral resources from the earth. Extraction begins with removing ore (mining), after which the ore is processed in a plant to produce a metal or metal concentrate, and then disposing and managing the waste materials produced. All of this requires knowledge and understanding of topics in every science and engineering discipline.
Demand for metals is always present and it increases with population growth and urbanization. The interesting and challenging task for mining engineers is to use their knowledge and skills to design systems and operations that will extract metals to meet these demands while minimizing the associated physical, environmental, and social footprints.
Supplying the enormous amount of metals needed for the transition to renewable energy systems will be even more challenging. See Climate-Smart Mining: Minerals for Climate Action (worldbank.org)
The metals industry is a large component of the global economy and an understanding of concepts in economics is useful. Management and finance are also important because mining operations are typically very large and complex and involve significant investments.
What courses do students take in Mining Engineering?
All UBC Engineering students complete a common, foundation year consisting of courses in general engineering, math, chemistry and physics.
In second year, mining students are introduced to basic principles of mining and mineral processing in addition to engineering science subjects such as solid and fluid mechanics.
Third year coursework students develop an in-depth understanding of rock mechanics, rock fragmentation, surface and underground mine design, physical mineral processes, froth flotation of fine particles, simulation models, mine waste management, and engineering economics.
Courses in the final year of the program include mine ventilation, materials handling, rock engineering design, strategic issues in the mining industry, mineral process control, mining and the environment, as well as a capstone design project.
Students are encouraged to take technical electives in disciplines, such as geotechnical, civil, environmental, and computer engineering.
The course load in second, third and fourth year varies between 37 and 40 credits per year.
The basic structure of the undergraduate program is shown below. A few more details can be found here.
How does Co-op work with the program?
The program consists of two 8-month and one 4-month work terms requiring 5 years to complete instead of the conventional 4 years. About half our students participate in the Co-Op Program. The Co-Op Office places students in mining engineering-type jobs with companies around the world.
If you would like more information, please visit https://coop.apsc.ubc.ca/
What are examples of the typical types of work or tasks done by someone in Mining Engineering?
This will depend on the type of company you work for (see below).
If you work for a mining company at a mine, the tasks could involve planning, design and maintenance of equipment, systems, and operations within the mine, the processing plant, or the waste management facilities. Mines handle large amounts of materials each day and therefore reliability and efficient operation of materials handling systems is an important task. Ensuring the safety of systems is an ever-present task that belongs to all mine employees.
As you progress through a career in a mining company, you would likely work in an office and be assigned tasks and projects that relate to the long-term goals and strategy of the company. This work could vary considerably and include such things as designing a new mine, examining the feasibility of implementation of new technology at a particular mine site, helping to decide whether the company should acquire a mine that is under development, or planning ways to improve the economic, social, and environmental conditions of communities impacted by a mining project, and to reduce any negative effects.
You could also work for an equipment supplier or a consulting company. Suppliers design and install systems and equipment for mining operations, likely operations owned by different mining companies. They also ensure the equipment is maintained and able to provide a specified performance standard. Consultants provide specialized design or investigation services for mining operations, ones that cannot be handled by the staff of the mining company, such as field investigations or detailed analysis.
One interesting aspect of a career in the mining industry is the variety of challenging problems or projects you could work on. The ability to continue learning and to adapt your knowledge and skills are essential attributes.
A career in the mining industry will involve collaboration with different kinds of engineers and other professionals as well as with communities, non-governmental organizations, and governments.
Mining is a global industry and any one of the tasks described above could involve travel to or living in other countries. Knowledge of a second language is an advantage.
What types of companies could someone in Mining Engineering work for?
A mining engineer could work for any one of the following organizations:
- Mining companies – the entire range from startups (junior mining companies) to large global organizations
- Manufacturers and suppliers of mining and mineral processing equipment.
- Consulting companies – services in engineering design, investigations, project management, management consulting, environmental studies, community engagement
- Provincial and federal governments, banks, financial institutions, and legal corporations.
Further studies in graduate school, business school, public policy, or law school are also possible.
A very small sample of companies and positions held by MINE alumni in these companies:
- Teck Resources Limited (Director, Mining & Social Responsibility)
- SRK Consulting (Senior Engineer, Rock Mechanics)
- Hatch Ltd (Senior Consultant, Mineral Processing)
- SNC-Lavalin (Vice President, Studies & Technology)
- BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (Senior Geotechnical Inspector)
- City of Vancouver (Project Manager, Landfill Design)
- IBM (Senior Manager, Sustainability & Energy Transition)
- Newcrest Mining (Chief Mine Engineer)
- Ernst & Young LLP (Senior Consultant, Mergers and Acquisitions)