Metallurgists use their knowledge to recover minerals and valuable metals from natural ores, and to alloy and cast materials to produce commercial metal products.
- Apply physical and chemical methods to separate and concentrate valuable minerals and metals from ores
- Produce crude, refined or alloyed metal for market
- Apply chemical, metallurgical and process engineering fundamentals to solve problems or improve existing processes
- Manage process automation, process control and metallurgical plant performance
- Develop process flowsheets and metallurgical plant design
- Improve environmental performance of metallurgical operations and meet all environmental standards
Skills and attributes
- Data collection and analysis
- Problem solving and critical thinking
- Working as part of a multidisciplinary team
- Understanding chemical processes
- Project planning and management
A typical day
- The diverse nature of metallurgy means variety is the norm. On-site metallurgists may be involved in project planning, contractor meetings, equipment monitoring and much more.
- Production Metallurgist: Extract metal or minerals from ores to produce saleable metals or concentrates.
- Hydrometallurgist: Treat ores through low temperature refining and techniques such as leaching, solvent extraction and electrolytic processes.
- Pyrometallurgist: Develop high temperature heat-based processes to concentrate, extract, refine and process metals and other materials.
- Electrochemical Metallurgist: Develop processes that take place in some form of electrolytic cell, including electrowinning, electro-refining and fused salt electrolysis.
- Geometallurgist: Combine geology or geostatistics with extractive metallurgy to create spatially or geologically-based predictive models for mineral processing plants.
- Foundry Metallurgist: Melt, alloy, pour and cast metals with specific material form and characteristics such as material strength, permeability, hardness and chemical composition.
- Consulting Metallurgist: Work on a variety of processes, plants and ores; specialise in certain processes or metals/minerals and provide certain specific technical information to operations.
- Process Engineer: design and construct processing plants; complete or coordinate metallurgical testing of ores to identify the best method for processing and establish equipment criteria for plants.
- Research Metallurgist: Work in universities or research centres and investigate why and how metallurgical processes behave the way they do or are the way they are.
- Materials Engineer: Investigate the properties of metals and other materials and develop and assess their commercial and engineering applications.
Nature of work
- Work can be residential, fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) or drive-in, drive-out (DIDO)
- Rosters and hours will vary accordingly
- Expect some travel, particularly to sites in remote areas
- Metallurgists with good experience can find work opportunities overseas
I’ve worked with a wide range of people, spanning operations, consulting and laboratory testing. Aside from the brilliant minds and people you interact with in the industry, what I’ve enjoyed most is working in an environment where each operation has its own unique challenges, and devising solutions to address those challenges.
Hans Liang MAusIMM
Senior Metallurgist, Core Resources Pty Ltd