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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Find a Job in Mining

One of the hats I wear is as an expert on the Internet a job that makes me an ordinary guy with a briefcase and a new pair of shoes fifty miles from home.  My expertise is supposed to be in geology, but the way it has worked though is most of the questions are how to get a job in the mining or oil and gas industries.  A job for which we are not the highly qualified expert, but we try.

How to Get a Job in the Mining Industry:

If you can't read German this is some miners at work in the 15th century by Georgius Agricola the father of mining engineering in his book De Re Metallica. This woodcut illustrates some early mining equipment that was in use then.    
The first thing you have to realize is that the mining industry is a lot of hard work, and not only that it is a boom & bust industry that operates on the whim of the overall economy of industry as a whole.  Mining is only one of the first steps on a long road until a finished product makes it to the final customer.

For the sake of this argument we will consider that you have a college education although some of the steps in this article apply to everyone.

·        Have an applicable specialty – basket weaving does not apply.
·        Get good grades – partying does not apply.
·        Most colleges have a placement agency that acts usually as a lifetime employment agency for their graduates, use it!
·        Most colleges also have career counselors that are often in your department, use them!
·        Prepare a good resume or CV before you go job hunting.
·        On the back pages of all trade journals there are usually help wanted ads, use them!
·        Most big mining companies have training programs, use them!
·        Most mining companies have web pages, read them if you are interested!
·        Most mining companies on their web pages have a listing you can click on saying, “Careers” or something like that, read them!
·        Practice the interview with a friend before you show-up for the real thing!
It takes a certain amount of patience to be a miner, and by the way if you have any questions you would like answered just leave them in the comments box at the bottom of this blog.

Mark Twain once defined a mine as a deep hole in the ground with a damned fool at the bottom, and a damned liar at the top – Maybe he got it right!

Mining Today

We always hear people stating we are running out of natural resources especially ores the problem is these people don’t really understand mining or where mineral resources might be hiding.  The real answer to this situation is simply the true size of the Earth; it is mind boggling.  Seventy-One percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water leaving the remaining 29% covered by land.  Virtually all the mines on earth are on the land with hardly any mining activity occurring at sea.  This is a situation that is apt to change in the years ahead. 

This is an aerial view of the Kidd Mine in Timmins, Ontario    NOAA

Even though mining activity is mostly confined to land areas even there we have barely scratched the surface.  The deepest mine on earth at present is the Mponend Goldmine in South Africa at 13,123 feet.  The deepest surface mine is Bingham Canyon in Utah having a depth of 3,397 feet.  On an average the crust of the earth is 14.7 miles thick ranging from 4 miles thick at its thinnest beneath the oceans to over 19 miles at its thickest beneath the continents!

Recent discoveries indicate that most mineral deposits have their origins from the so-called “Black Smokers” at spreading centers making it highly probable that most ore deposits are to be found on the ocean’s crust.  The ocean floor is also covered with another type of deposit called manganese nodules that in reality contain far more then manganese, but virtually any other metallic element all one has too do is go looking for them with a spectrometer.

There isn’t a mine in the whole world that is more then three miles deep leaving us a tremendous area that remains unexplored.  It must be remembered that modern mining techniques are less then a century old, so there is plenty of room for improvement.  I am sure the 49ers would hardly recognize the world of mining that exists today.

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to open a New Mine


A mine has to be located on a viable mineral deposit, but that isn’t necessarily so giving truth to the Canadian phrase defining a mine, “A mine is a hole in the ground with a fool at the bottom, and a liar at the top.” More then one mine has been built for the sole purpose of bilking the investors.

Aerial View of the Dome Mine in Timmins, Ontario

Opening a new mining site:

Mines are developed in places where viable mineral deposits are located before building a mine is even considered. The site is found through the efforts of a prospector or today in most cases the efforts of a team of exploration geologists working with geophysicists to locate ore bodies deep inside the crust of the earth. It should be remembered that a “showing” of ore doesn’t necessarily lead to the development of a mine. Usually there are as many as three hundred shows investigated before one is found that can support a mine.

Preliminary work:

Finding the future location is done by the exploration team that can range from a single prospector to an entire exploration team searching for a viable ore deposit. Once a deposit is found drillers are called in for diamond drilling to further explore the site, and get an idea on the size of the ore body by drilling a grid with spacing between the individual drill holes of usually 100 meters. Closer drilling is called for to further define specific portions of the ore body.
While the preliminary work is ongoing the mine promoters are busily getting the financing to continue the exploration of the site as well as gaining the additional money required to develop the mine. Most of this work is done on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) although there are others that include all the major stock exchanges in the world.
Virtually all the going on’s at the ore site and the financial efforts is reported on an arm of the Toronto Stock Exchange that reports on virtually all the corporations in the world their filings, financial statements, 43-101 filings, press releases, and notices of stock holder meetings along with their results.


Once a viable ore body is discovered to develop it further is going to require a mining permit that by the time you have gone through the alphabet soup of various bureaucracies can take several years that together with lawyer’s fees that can be quite pricey. The toughest hurdle you will face is the local inland wetlands commission and even tougher if there is one the local planning and zoning board (P&Z). Most lawsuits are initiated at the local level although there are lawsuits aimed to stop the mine initiated by various other groups outside the local area. A mine usually requires several different permits, but the final one is issued by the local authorities.

Heavy mining equipment used in a surface mine.

Constructing and outfitting a mine:

Once the ore body has been proven and all the necessary permits are in place the actual construction and outfitting of the mine site can take place. This is going to require a decision on the part of management whether this is going to happen in-house or if it is going to be farmed out to independent contractors. There are enough independent contractors to both construct the mine and outfit it at the same time. Many mines are also operated by independent contractors hired by management to operate the mine under contract.
A decision also has to be made by management whether the mine is going to be a surface mine or an underground mine. Surface mines are the least expensive to operate, but there are situations that can arise making it more desirable to have an underground mine. This decision will determine the equipment required to operate the mine.
Mines are often built in remote locations requiring not only providing for the mine’s operation, but housing for the workers as well. A large mining operation can require the construction of a city that needs all the facilities like schools, hospitals, libraries and anything else found in a modern city. It will include all the infrastructure found in a modern town or city including roads not only those used in the ore extraction process, but for other means of transportation including in many cases an airport,


These are only some of the steps required to open a mine there are a legion of others that are apt to crop up as the building and operating of a mine continues.