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Industry Description - What Mining Companies Do

Mining and Quarrying is the search for, and extraction, and processing of naturally occurring solid minerals from the earth.  Mined minerals include coal, metals such as iron, copper, or zinc, and industrial minerals such as potash, limestone, and other crushed rocks.

Companies in the Mining sector primarily engage in mining, mine site development, and beneficiating metallic minerals and nonmetallic minerals, including coal.

The term "mining" is used in the broad sense to include ore extraction, quarrying, and beneficiating (e.g., crushing, screening, washing, sizing, concentrating, and flotation), customarily done at the mine site.

Beneficiation is the process whereby the extracted material is reduced to particles which can be separated into mineral and waste, the former suitable for further processing or direct use.  The operations that take place in beneficiation are primarily mechanical, such as grinding, washing, magnetic separation, centrifugal separation, and so on.

The range of preparation activities varies by mineral and the purity of any given ore deposit.  While some minerals require little or no preparation, others are washed and screened, while yet others, such as gold and silver, can be transformed into bullion before leaving the mine site.

Establishments in the Mining sector include those that have complete responsibility for operating mines and quarries and those that operate mines and quarries for others on a contract or fee basis.

The Importance of the Mining Industry

Metals and other minerals are an essential source of raw materials for the building and chemical industries and are also a critical part of the production of everyday electronics and consumer products like batteries for mobile phones and electric cars.

The mining industry plays an important role in the economy. As a supplier of coal, metals, industrial minerals, sand, and gravel to businesses, manufacturers, utilities and others, the mining industry is vital to the well being of communities across the country.

Minerals are essential to nearly every aspect of our lives and our economy, including utilities, the primary metals industry, non-metallic minerals industry (glass, cement, lime, ceramics), and the construction industry.

Careers and Job Opportunities in Mining

Mining operations are often the leading employers in the communities where they operate. More than 300,000 people work directly in the mining industry.

In addition to the actual extraction processmining offers careers in many production, management, technology and scientific roles. These include heavy equipment operators, engineers, chemists, geologists, and environmental conservationists and consultants.

The Range of Careers in Mining and Mining Engineering Include

  • Environmental Compliance Coordinator
  • Geological Engineer
  • Geoscientist
  • Mine Electrician
  • Mining Engineer
  • Finance Specialist and Manager
  • Mine Safety Engineer
  • Mine Safety Manager
  • Surveyor
  • Mineral and Rock Research and Science
  • Mining Consultant
  • Open Pit Mining Manager
  • Planning Engineer (Surface and Underground)
  • Process Mining Digital Engineer
  • Project Engineer
  • Tech Specialist Mining Systems
  • Underground Mining Commissioning Specialist
  • Continuous Mining Machine Operators
  • Driller and Blaster
  • Extraction Workers, Helpers
  • Mill Maintenance & Operations Supervisor
  • Mine Aggregates Production Worker
  • Mine Cutting and Channeling Machine Operators
  • Mine Mechanic Journeyperson
  • Mine Production Technician
  • Mining Roof Bolters
  • Mobile Equipment Operator
  • Scale Clerk
  • Shovel Operator
  • Shuttle Car Operator
  • Surface Mining Supervisor
  • Underground Mining, Machine Loading

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface.

What they do

Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.

Petroleum engineers typically do the following:

  • Design equipment to extract oil and gas from onshore and offshore reserves deep underground
  • Develop plans to drill in oil and gas fields, and then to recover the oil and gas
  • Develop ways to inject water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reserve to force out more oil or gas
  • Make sure that oilfield equipment is installed, operated, and maintained properly
  • Evaluate the production of wells through surveys, testing, and analysis

Oil and gas deposits, or reservoirs, are located deep in rock formations underground. These reservoirs can be accessed only by drilling wells, either on land, or at sea from offshore oil rigs.

Once oil and gas are discovered, petroleum engineers work with geoscientists and other specialists to understand the geologic formation of the rock containing the reservoir. They then determine the drilling methods, design the drilling equipment, implement the drilling plan, and monitor operations.

The best techniques currently being used recover only a portion of the oil and gas in a reservoir, so petroleum engineers also research and develop new ways to recover more of the oil and gas. This additional recovery helps to lower the cost of drilling and production.

The following are examples of types of petroleum engineers:

Completions engineers decide the best way to finish building wells so that oil or gas will flow up from underground. They oversee work to complete the building of wells—a project that might involve the use of tubing, hydraulic fracturing, or pressure-control techniques.

Drilling engineers determine the best way to drill oil or gas wells, taking into account a number of factors, including cost. They also ensure that the drilling process is safe, efficient, and minimally disruptive to the environment.

Production engineers take over wells after drilling is completed. They typically monitor wells’ oil and gas production. If wells are not producing as much as expected, production engineers figure out ways to increase the amount being extracted.

Reservoir engineers estimate how much oil or gas can be recovered from underground deposits, known as reservoirs. They study reservoirs’ characteristics and determine which methods will get the most oil or gas out of the reservoirs. They also monitor operations to ensure that optimal levels of these resources are being recovered.