Minerals surveyors play a vital role in the process of mineral extraction. A dentist would never pull your teeth out without doing a check-up first. Likewise, mining operations don’t kick off until a minerals surveyor has carried out a series of in-depth surveys on the site, assessing risk, predicting environmental impact and mapping mineral deposits.
Before miners are unleashed on a pit with their angry-looking equipment, a minerals surveyor is brought in to chart and record the extent to which mineral deposits can be excavated. During this surveying process, a minerals surveyor must assess and evaluate the commercial viability of the mining project. It’s all about weighing up the value of the minerals against the operational costs, environmental risk and safety restrictions.
During the surveying process, minerals surveyors use state-of-the-art equipment, such as GPS devices and computer-aided design software to digitally map and model mine sites. They may also perform more hands-on exploration tasks, like collecting mineral samples, analysing them, making notes and estimating the value of the resources that can be extracted.
However, minerals surveyors aren’t just responsible for the technical aspects of surveying – they also take charge of the necessary legal bits and pieces, such as applications for planning permission and contract negotiations.
Finally, once a mine has been exhausted of its resources, minerals surveyors will provide expert consultancy for restoration and regeneration strategies.
N.B. These guys don’t only use their expertise on mining projects: they can also use their expertise to survey quarries, oil and gas drilling sites, water treatment plants and waste management sites.
Salary & benefits
Entry-level mineral surveyors tend to earn between £20,000 and £26,000 per annum, while more experienced professionals can earn up to £42,000.
If you eventually become a chartered mineral surveyor, your annual salary is likely to be upwards of £50,000.
Typically, this lot work around 37.5 hours a week. However, extra evening and weekend work may be required from time to time to make sure that project deadlines are met.
You will most likely do a mixture of office work and site visits. On-site work can be dangerous at times, so you will be required to wear appropriate safety gear.
If you’re seriously considering a career as a minerals surveyor, you should probably think about completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as minerals surveying (only available at Northumbria University), mining engineering (only available at the University of Essex), surveying, environmental geoscience, geology or geography.
Entry into this profession with a relevant HND (higher national diploma) is also possible. However, it’s likely that you will start off in a lower-level technician role, and thus you may be required to complete further study later in order to climb the career ladder.
Completing a relevant postgraduate qualification may boost your chances of finding work, and may also propel you up the career ladder quicker.
Training & progression
As a trainee, the majority of your training will be done ‘on-the-job’, although your company will most likely support you through the training process of becoming a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) as a chartered minerals surveyor.
This usually takes two years if you already have a degree which is approved by the RICS. If you don’t have an accredited degree, this process can take around four years.
Once you have become a chartered minerals surveyor and wish to specialise in a specific area of surveying, you may be required to take part in training courses which are offered by external organisations, such as the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM).
As you progress in your career, you may wish to specialise in a specific area of minerals surveying. For instance, you may decide to focus your efforts on waste management sites rather than mines. Alternatively, you may decide to use your transferrable skills elsewhere and move into another area of surveying, such as archaeological surveying or hydrographic surveying.
Some minerals surveyors decide to explore freelance opportunities in the UK and overseas.