Mining engineers deal with the application of science and technology in the planning, design, development, optimization, operation and management of surface and underground mining and mineral exploration projects. A particularly important challenge that faces mining engineers in today's environment is to design and implement mining systems to extract minerals with sound environmental technology while maximizing the return on investors' capital. The major employers of mining engineers include surface and underground mining companies, mineral exploration companies, equipment manufacturers and dealerships, consulting companies, and teaching and research institutions.
The Mining Engineering curriculum at the University of Alberta covers the following core areas of study: ore reserve modelling and grade control, computerized mine planning and design using commercial software packages, mineral economics, mine production engineering, rock and soil mechanics, rock fragmentation, mine ventilation, mine environmental technology, surface and underground mining technology, mine survey, and economic and structural geology. The curriculum is designed to prepare prospective mining engineers with the tools to succeed in a variety of career opportunities including ore reserve analyst, mine planning engineer, mine production engineer, mineral economist, mine systems engineer, mine maintenance engineer, mine geotechnical engineer, mine reclamation engineer and mine manager.
Ore reserve analysts apply geometric, statistical, probabilistic and geostatistical methods for ore reserve modelling and grade control required for investment decisions, mine planning, design and production. Mine planning engineers use analytical and computer-aided design tools to design and optimize surface and underground mine layouts for efficient extraction processes. Mine production engineers supervise labor and mine equipment to achieve short and long range production targets using efficient and safe operating standards. Mineral economists apply the principles of mathematics, economics and finance in evaluating the economic potential of mining projects, analysis of investment risk and uncertainty and commodity markets analysis and pricing
Mine systems engineers apply operation research techniques for efficient unit mining operations in the development-production networks. Mine maintenance engineers design and implement preventive, breakdown and repair maintenance programs for the efficient and safe use of mine equipment in production. Mine geotechnical engineers design and implement programs to ensure the stability of underground mine openings, surface mine slopes, and waste and tailings dumps. Mine reclamation engineers design and monitor reclamation of landscapes after mine closure. Mine managers use management and engineering principles to manage the overall mining operations to meet short- and long-term goals.