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Career Guidance

Best Practice

  • Download Best Practice (version 1) – a Best Practice overview for new graduates who are starting out on their career path. This document covers the following topics:

  • Download Best Practice (version 2) – a Best Practice overview canvassing the topics list in version one with further elaboration in terms of regulatory requirements and definitions of ECSA’s Engineering Qualifications and the HEQF and the Identification of Engineering Work for Persons registered in a category contemplated in section in section 18(1) of the Engineering Professions Act 2000 (Act 46 of 2000)

Career Guidance CD

careerGuidanceMining Companies need well educated and trained engineers and scientists.  The SAIMM Career Guidance and Education Committee has assumed much of the work previously carried out by the Chamber of Mines in the area of Career Guidance and Education promotion, in the disciplines of Mining Engineering, Mine Surveying, Geology and Metallurgy.

The goal of the Career Guidance and Education Committee is the promotion of the mining industry through the dissemination of information to attract quality candidates for engineering careers. Furthermore, in light of the current acute engineering shortage, focus is placed on the retention and further development of good engineering talent in the industry.

The Career Guidance and Education Committee has developed an interactive CD to transfer mining industry information to scholars. A CD is included containing the program. The program transfers general information about different mining industry disciplines, career paths, and tertiary institutions which present these courses.  In addition, information about financing studies is provided to scholars.  A list of companies affiliated with the SAIMM is also provided.

The program and interactive CD can serve as a platform to transfer additional information about companies.  This could include videos, brochures and documents amongst others.

The objective of this initiative is to distribute the CD to grade 10 to 12 Science and Career Guidance teachers.  In addition, the program will be available on the SAIMM Career Guidance web page.

Mine Surveying

SurveyorMine surveyors are responsible for maintaining an accurate plan of the mine as a whole and will update maps of the surface layout to account for new buildings and other structures, as well as surveying the underground mine workings in order to keep a record of the mining operation.

Safety, Health And Environmental Practitioners

The Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) professional is concerned with developing and co-ordinating systems for the creation and preservation of measures for the safety and health of employees and visitors. This involves compliance with all safety and health legislation pertaining to the use of plant, machinery, equipment and all workplace activities. It also involves assisting in the supervision of investigation of accidents and unsafe working conditions and training management and staff in regard to safety and health practices and legislation. It also involves the establishment and co-ordination of emergency procedures, fire fighting and first aid and reporting periodically to management as to the status of safety and health measures.

The Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) professional is therefore one of the key contributors to the welfare of the mining industry.

Rock Engineering

EngineeringRock engineering is the discipline of designing and supporting stable excavations in rock. By understanding the properties of the rock quantitatively as well as qualitatively the design of stable excavations in mines is made possible.


MiningMining engineering involves economically removing ore from the earth and delivering it in a manageable form to the Extraction Metallurgist for processing. The Mining Engineer is skilled in the knowledge of mining processes and must, through knowledge and experience:


Extractive_Metal_EngMetallurgy is the discipline where ores are processed to valuable and usable products and metals. Extractive metallurgy is the combination of processes (hydrometallurgy, base processes, and sometimes pyrometallurgy, and eventually physical or materials processing) to remove valuable elements from ores, and process them into valuable salts or metals.


GeologyIn a broad sense geology is the study of the rocks, minerals and structure of the Earth as well as the movement and changes occurring during the Earth’s history. As a result of the processes that took place on the surface and in depth, certain minerals and elements have been concentrated in specific areas to form mineral deposits. It is the geologist’s responsibility, in co-operation with the mining engineer and other professionals, to locate and evaluate such deposits and to determine whether they can be exploited economically.

Chemical Engineering

saimm_3Chemical engineering is a set of disciplines equipping a person to address the development needs of processes. A person graduates with skills to design and install systems which can process a wide range of items including food, oil, and petroleum, various materials and minerals, the latter to intermediate materials and salts and eventually to metals; and much else. The chemical engineering qualification is well suited to metallurgical processing in the Mining & Metallurgy industry.

Financing Your Studies

Studying at a tertiary institution is an expensive endeavour which should be carefully planned. This planning should start early in Grade 12 to ensure success.

A number of options are available for the payment of your studies at a tertiary institution. These include the following
(i) Own funds
(ii) Bursary
(iii) Loans

(i) Own funds
You or your parents should make provision for your studies.

(ii) Bursaries
A number of role players provide bursaries to prospective students. These include companies, tertiary institutions, and government. Make sure that you apply early as the closing date in most cases is in the middle of the year. See their websites for more information.

Educational Opportunities

Most learners aren’t sure how they want to earn a living, but if you get to know yourself and research different career paths that interest you; you could find yourself being paid to do something that you really like.

Planning your career is much like planning a journey with several stopping-off points along the way. You need to decide on your destination (career choice), what to pack in your suitcase (skills, qualifications, etc) and what route to take. Your career route is unlikely to be a straight line between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Unexpected things do happen so you may have to change your plans before reaching your job destination. There is also the possibility that if you have not done enough initial planning, when you reach your destination, it may not be what you expected it to be. So, START THINKING AHEAD IN GRADE 11 (eleven).

Career Opportunities

As mentioned, the mining industry is a major contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa. It offers job opportunities in a wide spectrum directly and indirectly involved. In the last decade the major mining companies has become international role players with operations on all continents (except Antarctica). This created opportunities for their employees to join these operations and experience foreign cultures. The companies have different employment levels which provide their employees to advance their careers in the company.

The industry also provides opportunities for professionals to set up consultancy businesses that provide companies with their expertise. Other opportunities include agencies for equipment manufactures.

Plant Layout

The successful development of an ore body requires the expertise from different disciplines to work closely together. The Geologist usually identifies a potential mine site and through scientific investigation determines if the identified ore body will be economical to mine. He / she determines the type of mineral present in the ore body as well as the levels of the mineral. This information is critical in the method applied to recover the desired mineral.

The Minerals And Metals Industry

Since the dawn of civilisation, the development of the human race has depended on the discovery, processing, development and use of materials. So significant were certain materials that stages in technological progress are marked by the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages.

When gold was first discovered on the Witwatersrand in 1886, few people, even in their wildest dreams, believed that reserves could last over a hundred years and become the mainstay of South Africa’s mineral industry. It has been the anchor of these value-adding activities which also produce coal, steel, platinum, chromium, ferrochrome, manganese, vanadium, titanium, diamonds and other minerals. The minerals industry continues to dominate South Africa’s foreign exchange earnings.

Careers in the mining industry

PosterThe SAIMM welcomes you to its website and a special welcome to those seeking a career in the Minerals and Metals industry which holds challenges and rewards and will prove to be an exciting adventure. We have gathered information from our mines, educators and individual members to give you some advice that will help you to choose our industry as a career.

The section titled "The Industry" gives some background information about the mining industry in South Africa. In the "Plant Layout" section, the interactions of the different career opportunities are discussed. It contains interactive links to photographs of interest. The "Careers" section provides information about different career paths once you have obtained your qualification. Information about different study routes is supplied in the "Educational" section. This includes a list of the different tertiary institutions that provide courses in a minerals related field. Studying at a tertiary institution is expensive and you should make provision for this. The "Financing" section provides some information of different types of funding available to finance your studies. In the last sections the different fields of study in the minerals industry is discussed. This includes Geology, Mining, Surveying, Rock Engineering, SHE, Metallurgy and Chemical Engineering.

Scholarship Fund

The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy established a Scholarship Trust Fund for students in Mining and Metallurgy at South African tertiary educational Institutions in 2003. The fund holds some reserves for future years in order to smooth the flow of monies to the Institutions. Considerable funding has come from the SAIMM itself as it has contributed R220 000 each year; but significant funds have also been donated by individuals in the minerals and metals industry or by the smaller companies operating in the industry.

Places to study

  • University of the Wiwatersrand -Chemical & Metallurgocal Engineering

    The School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering was formed in 1995. It is the first of its kind in South Africa. It is the combination of the former Departments of Chemical Engineering and Metallurgy and Materials Engineering. At present, the School has about 400 undergraduate students, and about 80 post-graduate students. About half of the post-graduate students are employed in industry, and their research work is of interest to their employers.

  • University of the Witwatersrand -Geosciences

    The Wits Faculty of Science is one of the leading Science Faculties in the country and has an excellent track record in both teaching and research. Staff are highly competent scientists and educators who are committed to providing quality learning environments. Our courses and qualifications are on par with the best in the world as evidenced by their recognition by prestigious major institutions abroad. The aim of the Bachelor of Science degree is to develop graduates with a sound training in core scientific disciplines. On graduating our students have acquired the basic academic skills of scientific problem solving and an appreciation of the scientific method. An additional year of study leads to a teaching qualification, or a more specialized Honours degree.

  • University of the Witwatersrand - Engineering

    The Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment is at the forefront of creating wealth by providing society with well-educated, entrepreneurial graduates in engineering and built environment programmes. The Faculty's seven schools of * Architecture and Planning * Civil & Environmental Engineering * Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering * Construction Economics & Management * Electrical & Information Engineering * Mechanical, Industrial & Aeronautical Engineering * Mining Engineering

  • UNISA - Science

    Apart from the many fascinating phenomena waiting to be discovered and explained, studying the natural sciences fosters the important skills of analytical and creative thinking. Unisa science qualifications are internationally recognised and open the door to a variety of exciting and worthwhile careers in industry, education, and basic or applied research. In this site, we shall introduce Unisa and in particular our Science Faculty, and describe the special ways by which students study science at Unisa. This site will also explain how to select the qualification and subjects most suited to your needs.

  • UNISA - Engineering

    Department of Civil and Chemical Engineering Unisa (Florida Campus) Private Bag X6 Florida 1710 Phone: 011 670 9000 Department of Electrical and Mining Engineering Unisa (Florida Campus) Private bag X 6 Florida 1710 Phone: 011 670 9000 Department of Mechanical and industrial Engineering Unisa (Florida Campus) Private bag X 6 Florida 1710 Phone 011 670 9000

  • University of Stellenbosch - Process Engineering

    As engineers, we play pivotal roles in the chemical processes used to convert raw materials into valuable products, as well as optimising the processes used to extract minerals from the ore in which it is found. By using our science and engineering theory, we are able to develop various industrial manufacturing processes and to make them more efficient. In this way, we contribute to the development of globally competitive industries in South Africa.

  • University of Stellenbosch - Geology

    This Department will provide the best possible environment within which both staff and students can maximise their potential, for the benefit of South Africa, through sound and practical training in our disciplines, research and scholarship.

  • Univerity of Limpopo

    The School of Physical and Mineral Sciences is run at both Campuses of the University of Limpopo , i.e., Medunsa and Turfloop Campuses. The School comprises of three departments, namely, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics; three centres, namely, Materials Modeling Centre, centre for Micro-Analysis and Microscopy, and the Science Centre; and Water and Sanitation Institute. Geology and Water and Sanitation are presented at the Turfloop Campus. Details of the offerings by the School are in the School calendar, as well as in the web page.

  • University of Pretoria - Geology

    Welcome to the home of Bushveld Geology, Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Geodynamics, and Natural Hazards research in South Africa. Essentially everything of geological consequence north of the Jukskei River belongs to us. The Department of Geology at the University of Pretoria teaches two major undergraduate and honours study programmes, in (1) Geology and (2) Environmental and Engineering Geology (encompassing also Hydrogeology at honours level).

  • University of Pretoria - Mining

    Our Department ensures the supply of engineers and knowledge to industry by being the preferred African source of mining engineers and knowledge, through the optimal use of skills. We offer opportunities to the maximum number of students and use positive competition to guarantee continual improvement.

  • University of Pretoria - Metallurgy

    Metallurgical engineers change the world around them – by extracting metals from ores, by producing and shaping alloys, and by contributing to economic development. This Department similarly helps to shape and refine the people we work with. We have much to offer in terms of degree programmes, research opportunities and continuing education. We pride ourselves on the quality of our teaching, research and industrial contacts and laboratory facilities.

  • NorthWest University

    Chemical engineering entails the research, development, construction, industry and management of industrial processes, by which elements are converted either chemically or physically into products of higher economic value. The modern chemical engineer makes use of mathematical and chemical ingenuity to develop, optimise and maintain industrial processes.

  • University of KZN

    In 2005 the Faculty of Science and Agriculture will offer programmes at the Howard College, Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses. However, not all programmes or majors are offered at all campuses. In particular, Agriculture is offered only on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

  • University of Johannesburg

    The Department of Mine Surveying is one of 16 Departments located in UJ’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment. It enjoys strong links with the mining industry, including the Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs and the Institute of Mine Surveyors South Africa. The Mine Surveying Department at UJ is the only one in South Africa offering a full-time contact programme in Mine Surveying, equipping graduates to competently carry out the duties of a mine surveyor.

  • Univeristy of Cape Town- Geology

    The department was initially founded in 1895 as the School of Mines at the South African College which later became the University of Cape Town.