The two primary types of mine are underground mines and open-pit mines. Minerals that exist mostly underground (eg. coal, gold etc.) are generally recovered using the underground mining process. Minerals like iron ore, limestone, manganese ore, etc. are mostly recovered from the surface downwards in opencast mining. The need for mineral extraction and production is an essential activity of any technically proficient society. As minerals are produced from within a naturally occurring environment, disturbance of the environment as a result of mineral production is a given.
A mining engineer ensures the safe and economically sound progress of mines and other surface and underground operations. The role combines an understanding of the effects of these structures on their surrounding environment, technical knowledge and management skills.
Before a new site is developed, mining engineers assess its viability and assist with planning its structure. They also manage and oversee mining production processes.
Mining engineering is an engineering discipline that applies science and technology to the extraction of minerals from the earth. Mining engineering is associated with many other disciplines, such as geology, mineral processing and metallurgy, geotechnical engineering and surveying. A mining engineer may manage any phase of mining operations – from exploration and discovery of the mineral resource, through feasibility study, mine design, development of plans, production and operations to mine closure.
With the process of Mineral extraction, some amount of waste and uneconomic material are generated which are the primary source of pollution in the vicinity of mines. Mining activities by their nature cause a disturbance of the natural environment in and around which the minerals are located. Mining engineers must therefore be concerned not only with the production and processing of mineral commodities, but also with the mitigation of damage to the environment both during and after mining as a result of the change in the mining area.