Posts Tagged ‘engineer’


I am not sure I can do it. Can I put in words what it takes to be a great engineer? It is easy to recognize a great engineer when you work with them. I have these past few days worked with a great engineer whom I had not met before. I just know he is a great engineer. But as I said, I am not sure I can in words justify my gut emotion. Let me try, for if I fail this is but a blog posting–one of many, in fact posting 1,953 or thereabouts.

We drove around the sites together. We got out to look and to feel the soil & tailings. We joked that it is no longer considered safe to put the soil between tongue and top of palate to determine if it is a clay or silt. We both used to do that before H&S became a dictator. We shared observations about the vegetation–a sure sign of soil type and groundwater flow. We delighted in the scarp face of a soil failure zone caused by excessive seepage. And we kicked the rocks with glee to see them roll rugged, gray, and non-acid generating down the slope. We marveled at the track marks up the slope where the fussy site overseer continuously dressed the slope. And we poked our ears down the penstock to listen to water flowing when it should not.

He knew the history of the dams: the people who designed them; the problems that arose during construction; the failures during raising; the incidents not reported; the current need for more information; and the way the impoundments must be constructed so that they may be operated for twenty years and more.

We nodded or winked when referring to clients past and present who did not provide adequate budget. We shrugged a shoulder when agreeing the mine gets what is pays for and pays for a lot more when it does not pay its consultants to do what they know needs to be done.

Instinctively we concurred that the mine deserves its sorrows when it cuts budgets or defers inevitable capital expenditure and maintenance.

He has that singular gift of focusing on what is relevant. He cut through the underbrush that distracts the inexperienced and unskilled. He calmly focused on the sights, sounds, and senses of that which will fail soon if not remediated. And ignored the spectacular but irrelevant.

Yet he has been a good consultant to the miners. He has used judgment when the youth would have demanded finite element analyses. He has made quick decisions based on knowledge and experience when the youth would have waded through tests, trials, and tribulations. He has produced in the face of small budgets and demanding miners.

And now as he gets old, he gets patient. There is no hurry. So what if the report is late or never produced. “Just hear me and do it.”

And that is the ultimate sign of a great engineer: they know they are right and know they do not and cannot write enough to prove they are right.

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Here is an edited (to preserve identity) email that I received today:

I recently read your blog article, “Should I Become a Mining Engineer” and I have a couple questions if you wouldn’t mind answering them! (more…)

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Here from the CostMine  2012 Survey Results for African Mine Salaries, Wages and Benefits are some South African mining salaries.  (more…)

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Can you help a Russian mining engineer?  I often get personal emails from readers of this blog seeking advice or help.   I cannot help them all; but I try to answer them all and give my opinion that might help them.  (more…)

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Here from the new survey by CostMine entitled 2011 Survey Results, U.S. Metal and Industrial Mine Salaries, Wages and Benefits are some salaries.   I cannot possibly repeat the copious information in this new survey.  Instead I repeat below some of the salaries in jobs and places that interest me, and which I hope interest you.  You will need to purchase the full report to get all the salary and wage data.  (more…)

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Vancouver weather today was gorgeous; warm and sunny.  I was able to ride my bicycle to and from work and revel in the clear mountains, still snow-capped, and the city towers, gleaming in the sun.  But I could not find a topic for this blog.  In spite of a visit to the 34th floor of a tower from which the views were superb and the mining company hospitable.  In spite of a luxurious Japanese lunch with a beautiful and charming lady. In spite of a mind-bending problem come over the phone from a distant client.  In spite of arranging travel to far places.  Each would take pages to describe in detail, but all are “confidential,” so I must refrain. (more…)

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This posting was written some time ago.  It has proven popular.  Google likes to list it.  Below is the original posting.  The following few paragraphs are new, inserted in November 2011.

If you have landed at this post, you are probably seeking a job in mining in Colorado or in California.  That is a tough call these days.  To check out current job listings go to CareerMine at InfoMine.  (By way of full disclosure, we share offices and they help me with IT–I could not manage a computer if I tired.) 

In California, US Borax is still mining.  And so is that group on the road to Las Vegas where they are pulling rare earth minerals out of the ground.  For the rest it is quarries to get the sand and gravel to make concrete to build more structures and repair those that are falling down. 

Maybe you can get a mining-related job cleaning up one of the many old mines in California that are now abandoned by their original owners and now belong to oil companies who, through Superfund, are forced to spend millions each year cleaning up past messes.  That produced lots of work for folk like you and me.  And it adds but a tiny bit of a cent to the price of gas at the pump to pay for it.  Might as well get on the band-wagon while it is rolling. 

The situation in Colorado is brighter.  Denver is still a place where mining companies operate to develop mines in far-flung places.  Not many new mines in Colorado though.  All the result of tree-huggers, tax-grabers, and a string of horribly-run mines that have left behind a legacy of pollution.  There are many consultants in Denver who are desperate for qualified folk who know mining.  But be prepared to be sent to Romania, Ghana, Russia, and other diverse nasty places to do real work. 

 If you do not like travel to unsafe places, the Denver consulting world is not for you.  But if you are young and seek adventure and the chance to die young, get on board, for they need you badly and will pay well. 

If you have few skills and seek to labor and manage equipment, you are probably out of luck in Denver and Colorado mining.  Sure they have lots of old mines that need to be cleaned up.  But there are few mines where muscle is needed.  To exercise physical power earning money on a mine, you need to go north to Fort McMurray or south to Chile, or around the globe to Australia.   Go to those place unbeset by Tea Party oldies who do not like change and Take Over Wall Street folk who do not like anything except drugs, death, and squalor. 

I have been brutally honest on the basis of pessimistic personal observation so far.  But keep in mind that I am only a blogger and thus can be wrong.  Read the original posting below. Look at the mining job posting sites like CareerMine, and ask around.

If you find I am wrong, please let me know so that we can tell the good news to others like you who are seeking employment while the politicians dither and obstruct. 

Original Posting

There are still good jobs going begging in the mining industry.   The best place to find them is at CareerMine.   Seems that in spite of no dividend, Freeport-McMoran is looking for a Mill Superintendent and a Superintendent Mine at the Climax Mine site between Silverthorne and Leadville, Colorado.  Coal mining is still booming in the jobs world.  Cliffs in Cleveland, Ohio is looking to employ a slew of procurement folk.


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