Unpacking Career Opportunities in the Mining Value Chain
By Denzel T Chimene
The mining industry is one of the biggest employing sector in Zimbabwe, with an estimate of over 45 000 formal employees. In addition to that, it is one of the highest paying sector with its minimum wages pegged at RTGS$70 750. Even during some years when the majority of the working class was earning 100% in RTGS, the Mining Sector was partly paying its employees with USD. Whilst some graduates with mining related courses are still unemployed, the industry is expected to grow into a US12 Billion Sector by 2023. 2021 also saw a number of mines being reopened and the future might be bright for Mining Professionals particularly in Zimbabwe, where we are still focusing on industrialization. In this article, I will highlight some career opportunities in the mining value chain from exploration, discovery, development, production and reclamation.
Mine surveyors are responsible for maintaining an accurate plan of the mine as a whole and will update maps of the surface layout to account for new buildings and other structures, as well as surveying the underground mine workings in order to keep a record of the mining operation.
Surveyors are usually under the Technical Service Department, working hand in hand with geologists and assayers in guiding mine engineers on where to mine. They are much involved in Exploration, Mine Development, Production as well as Reclamation, in the stages of a Mine Life cycle.
Mine Surveying is offered by Zimbabwe School of Mines as a National Diploma (ND) or Higher National Diploma (HND). It requires at least 5 O levels including Maths, Science and English. For you to enjoy surveying, you should be very good in mathematics.
Depending with the size of a mine, a mine may require 1 to 4 surveyors or above. You may start as an attaché, then go for graduate trainee after completing your course, then Surveyor, Chief Surveyor (heading all surveyors) or Technical Manager (heading the whole technical services department). Employment opportunities may also be available in surveying consultant firms, government structures as well as manufacturers and retailers of surveying machinery.
As a business, you can start a Surveying Consultant firm to Small Scale Miners who cannot afford full time surveyors, provided you have the experience.
Geology is the science that deals with the dynamics and physical history of the earth, the rock of which it is composed and the physical, chemical and biological changes that the earth has undergone or is undergoing.
This then produces geologists and geology technicians. Geologists are responsible for exploration (search of minerals) as well as guiding mine engineers on the rock to mine. They are mainly required in mine exploration, development and production. They work hand in hand with surveyors in assessing ore grade. They also determine the life span of a mine as well as ore reserve.
Geology is offered by University of Zimbabwe and Midlands State University as a Degree. Zimbabwe School of Mines (ZSM) also offers it as a 3-year diploma program. For universities, entry requirements are at least 2 A level Science Subject passes, for ZSM it is 5 O levels including Maths, Science and English.
A Mine may require 1-3 or more geologists. They also start from attachment, before being graduate trainees or getting supervisory roles as geologists. They also have a chance to manage the Technical Services Department and rise to Mine Operations Managers and in some cases Mine Managers.
They can also be employed in exploration companies, government offices or mineral research companies. As entrepreneurs, geologists can go down the geology consultancy route offering exploration services, research or feasibility studies services or start their own mining ventures.
Mine Engineering covers all the aspects related to mining. They are responsible for extracting the ore off the ground and prepare it for the next stage, which is processing. They are required in Mine Development and Production.
The Mine Engineering Course is offered by UZ, MSU and Gwanda State University as a Degree and by the Zimbabwe School of Mines as a National Diploma or Higher National Diploma. For the degree, an advanced level pass in Chemistry and any other science subject is required. For the ZSM, 5 O levels including Maths, English and Science are required.
Miners are most required at a mine, starting their careers as attaches, then Graduate Trainees, Miners, Shift Supervisors, Section Managers, Production Managers then Mine Managers. Mine Engineers have the greatest chances of becoming Mine Managers.
They can also be employed in consulting companies, government ministries, educational institutions only to mention a few.
Miners can also start their own mining ventures, mining consultant companies or mining consumables, retailing or manufacturing companies.
Metallurgy is a branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification. The field is also responsible for processing minerals.
Minerals often come in an ore body (mineral containing rock). A metallurgist has a role of processing that rock and extract the desired mineral or metal. They manage the mineral processing plant.
Metallurgists are required in exploration, mine development as well as production. Metallurgy is offered by UZ, NUST, MSU and Gwanda State University as a 4-year degree program. Zimbabwe School of Mines also offers it as a Diploma or HND course for 3 and 4 years respectively. For a degree course, it requires 2 A level passes in Chemistry and any other science subject. ZSM requires 5 O levels including Maths, Science and English. A Chemical Engineering Degree can hold as much value as a Metallurgy Degree in the Mining Industry.
Metallurgists are the second most required personals at a mine after Miners. A metallurgist starts as an attaché, then graduate trainee, plant operator, plant supervisor, plant metallurgist, plant manager and even mine operations manager.
Metallurgists can also be employed in metallurgical consultancy companies, assaying and metallurgical laboratories, mineral processing plants, metallurgical consumables retailing or manufacturing companies and government ministries.
Metallurgists can also start companies related to chemicals, manufacturing, retailing or wholesaling, metallurgical consultancy, mineral processing plants, assaying labs or even start their own mining ventures.
Metallurgical Assaying, which is basically the compositional analysis of an ore, metal, or alloy, usually performed in order to test for purity or quality. These work hand in hand with Geologists and Metallurgists in assessing sample (both solids and liquids) grade. They are mainly required in exploration and production.
The Metallurgical Assaying course is offered as a 3-year Diploma Course by the Zimbabwe School of Mines, whilst majority of polytechnic colleges offer it as a 4-year Diploma program. It is also available as a National Certificate and Higher National Diploma. It requires 5 O levels including Maths, English and Science. It has a lot of chemistry application.
A mine can work with only one assayer, who can also grow to be the chief assayer. He can also work in metallurgical assaying labs and government ministries.
As a business, they can open up a metallurgical assaying laboratory.
Environmental management also present a career opportunity in the mining value chain for people doing environmental studies. Mines have a mandate to promote the safety and health of their employees, protect the environment as well as ensuring that the mine upholds its quality standards. Regulatory boards such as EMA are frequently auditing mines if they are following the regulations related to environmental management and in that regard, the demand of environmental studies students in mines has been on the rise.
Engineers are also required in the mining industry, especially Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. These are responsible for assessing, maintaining and repairing machineries found in the mine. One can go for a degree course, diploma or even certificate.
Other Career Opportunities
Human Resources Managers, Accountants, IT Engineers, Procurement Officers, security officers, risk managers, economists and others fall under alternative career opportunities in the mining sector. Mining Companies have independent HR and Finance Departments that require trained personals to fill them up. The above careers are there to promote a mine in achieving its goals and targets.
Denzel T Chimene is a Metallurgy-Technician graduate from Zimbabwe School of Mines. He can be contacted on +263784213938 / email@example.com