Geotechnical engineers or engineering geologists investigate, design and monitor mining excavations. They are also involved with the construction of waste dumps and stockpiles and the placement of backfill.
- Develop models of the major geologic structures and geotechnical features of a mine
- Provide information to mine management on the effect current mining practices are having on ground stability issues
- Recommend or undertake rock property testing and sample selection
- Interpret data from instrumentation e.g. ground movements
- Compile databases and reports on rock mass parameters
- Review, update and optimise geotechnical design guidelines for mine planning requirements
Skills and attributes
- Working as part of a multidisciplinary team
- Strong background in science and mathematics
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Strategic thinking related to the overall operation of the mine
A typical day
- Geotechnical engineers can expect to work on a fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) or drive-in/drive-out (DIDO) roster at a remote mine site. They are usually part of and provide direction to the technical services team and have a working knowledge of all aspects of the operation.
- Geotechnical Engineer (Open Pit and Underground): Design, install, use and maintain geotechnical instrumentation to assess the response of the rock mass to mining activities, and interpret and report on that data.
- Geotechnical Engineer (Consultant): Consult on both underground and open pit projects. They will often be based in cities and fly or drive to their projects as required.
- Geotechnical Engineer (Computing/Modelling): Design and apply computer programs and models to characterise and predict rock and ground behaviour, including stress regimes and rock strength.
- Geotechnical Engineer (Academic/Research): Investigate why and how things behave the way they do or are the way they are, rather than the economic issues of how to mine.
Nature of work
- Fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) or drive-in/drive-out (DIDO) roster
- Standard office hours if you join a city-based consultancy and are working in the office
- Expect to spend much of your early career at (often remote) operating sites
- High likelihood to travel both domestically and internationally, even with a city-based position
I enjoy the technical challenges and the variety of my work. There are so many different technical aspects, and often a number of these need to be considered together to solve problems. I also enjoy working closely with both geologists and mining engineers.
Ruth Stephenson MAusIMM(CP)
Principal Geotechnical Engineer, AMC Consultants