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Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Job of the Mining Engineer through History

According to the experts a mining engineer follows a discipline involving several different facets all of which involve one facet or another of the mining industry.  Some of these many facets include discovering mineral resources that might be mined.  It also includes evaluating a known mineral showing to determine if it will produce a viable mine.  At other times he might be involved in the physical extraction and processing of minerals from a natural environment in such a way as to increase their value.  In many cases he is also responsible for protecting the environment from excessive damage from any mining operations.  Finally it is the mining engineer upon which the responsibility of closing a mine.

Headframes in Butte Montana that were designed by a mining engineer

Although decried by many our standard of living is based on mineral extraction even though any mining activity will cause great disturbance to the environment in the vicinity of any mining operation.  The mining engineer must also be concerned with the environmental damage produced from any mining activities that involve the mine where he works.  Beyond the production and processing of any minerals produced from the mine he must also be familiar with the methods of mitigating any damage to the environment resulting from mining operations.

A bucket wheel excavator gives some idea of how large mining equipment is used in mining.

Mining goes back to the beginning of civilization with people having used the products of the earth to build the civilization we know today.  It doesn’t make any difference if it is stone for making tools and weapons or for colorful minerals that were used to decorate their bodies.  The oldest known mine in the world is the “Lion Cave” in Swaziland, Africa where using the radiocarbon dating process proves mankind was in the mining business around 43,000 years ago.  The product they mined was hematite an iron ore, but they used it to produce the red pigment iron ochre to paint their bodies.

Other mine shafts dating back to the earliest time have been found in both England and France where the early miners dug into the chalk deposits for flint used in the production of tools and weapons.  Other early mining activities were for clay used to produce brick and ceramic vessels.  From this you can see that the mining engineers job is not only important, but is one of the oldest professions in the world.

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