Mining engineer job

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Paul Campbell works for UK Coal Mining Ltd and is responsible for the mining operations in Yorkshire. He works both on the surface and underground to ensure that production targets are achieved on schedule.

What does your job mining engineer job involve?

It involves a number of duties. Apart from maintaining production targets, I must ensure the health and safety of the underground workforce on my shift. I also have to detect (using monitoring devices), note and record details, such as quantities of methane and carbon monoxide detected, ventilation, any detected roof movement and the condition of conveyors, fire-fighting equipment and first aid equipment.

I am also responsible for all blasting and 'shotfiring', where we use explosives to extract the rock or coal when it becomes too hard to excavate. I count and carry the detonators underground from the surface. The explosive is carried out by one of the workmen.

Is a mining engineer job dangerous?

It's not dangerous if discipline is maintained and rules are strictly followed. Obviously there is more risk of an accident than working in an office, but many other construction and quarrying activities deal with explosives and face similar problems. Risk assessments are carried out for all activities, especially those that are not routine.

Kellingley is a deep mine – I can work at about 750 metres below sea level and about four miles underground from the bottom of the shafts.

Do you have a typical day?

Every shift is different. Most shifts run according to plan and mining operations continue as scheduled. Sometimes, there may be a long delay that is the result of a problem somewhere else in the mine and out of our control, so we have to wait for that to be fixed before carrying on.

What equipment do you use?

All command supervisors are trained in testing for methane gas using a range of devices. The two common devices are a hand-held device reading 0 to 5 per cent methane to air mix and a Davy Lamp, which shows the percentage of methane by the size and shape of the 'gas cap' on top of the flame.

Why did you choose to become a mining engineer?

I knew it would interest me from an engineering point of view with so much to learn that cannot be seen on the surface. It is also comparatively well paid.

What are the main challenges?

There aren't many, other than the well-known ones – the long-term effect of breathing in coal and stone dust, and the hot, humid conditions of this kind of workplace.

What do you like best about your mining engineer job job?

I enjoy the teamwork aspects of my job, and the satisfaction gained when things are running well. Having been interested in geology for many years, I'm fascinated by seeing geological evidence first hand. Layers of coal underground supports a large array of tree and fern fossils whose patterns and age are interesting.

Paul's route to his mining engineer job

  • GCSEs.
  • A levels.
  • Degree in Mining Engineering.

Paul's mining engineer tips

  • If you are interested in sciences and engineering, consider mining – the biggest industry in the world.
  • Very few young people are becoming qualified in this industry, so there are lots of opportunities.
  • Many areas, including Australia, South America and Africa, do not produce enough mining engineers to meet the demand, so there is a possibility of travelling once you are trained and qualified.

Mining engineer related jobs

  • Civil engineer
  • Environmental scientist
  • Geologist
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Rural surveyor

Salary of a Mining engineer

  • Trainees or apprentices typically start on about £12,000 a year, which should increase as they progress.
  • Starting salaries for graduates are usually around £20,000, but may rise to around £40,000 with bonuses.

Becoming a mining engineer

  • The routes available depend upon your initial qualifications. Graduates with degrees in mining, mechanical or electrical engineering will start on a fast-track routes covering all the mine operations.
  • Entrants starting as apprentices follow the British Coal Student Apprenticeship in Engineering scheme, or the British Coal Apprenticeship Scheme for Mechanics. Employment opportunities with UK COAL Group of Companies are managed through the headquarters in Harworth, near Doncaster. The group offers training to a high standard, which is provided in all disciplines.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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