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.
Current governmental legislation requires that environmental impact studies should be performed to elucidate the affect of the mining activities on the surrounding environment and communities. This requires the involvement of Environmentalists. Once the mining licence is issued, the mine site can be developed. This important task is performed by the Mining Engineer
who ensures that the maximum amount of the mineral is recovered taking into account the economical viability of the process. Different techniques are available such as open cast mining, and underground mining. In the case of underground mining, which is applied extensively in South Africa, the expertise offered by the Rock Engineer
is utilised. He / she ensures that the excavations, which could stretch for kilometres, are safe for operations. The progress of the mining process is followed by the Mine Surveyor
who is responsible for keeping an accurate account of the ore body already extracted. The abovementioned team ensures a constant ore supply to the process plant. The process plant is designed and optimised by the Metallurgist
or Chemical Engineer
. The design of the plant depends on the properties of the ore being treated. The general layout consists of a comminution section where the large ore particles are being reduced in size by crushing and milling. The next stage will be the separation stage where the mineral is separated from the unwanted material or gangue. The separation stage is followed by the reduction and refining stages in which the mineral is converted in the product wanted by the market. In order for the Metallurgist or Chemical Engineer to optimise the process plant, the composition of the mineral in different process streams is needed. This requires the knowledge of an Analytical Chemist to measure the levels of the mineral or dissolved species.
Safety and Health is a very important aspect of a mine or any industrial site. The Safety, Health and Environmental Practitioners
ensures that systems are in place to guarantee the safety and health of employees.