Mining Studies in Australia
Prof Peter Dowd Professor of Mining Engineering and Executive Director, Mining Education Australia
The products of mining are essential to all societies. Mining provides the raw materials for almost everything that we take for granted every day – energy for light, warmth and cooling; equipment and fertilisers for agriculture; components for electronics and communications; metals and materials for the construction of cars, aeroplanes, trains and all other forms of transport; materials for the pipes that deliver water and the wires that deliver electricity; building materials for houses, cities and roads; the components for medical devices, equipment and support systems that sustain our heath. In fact, there is very little that we come into contact with every minute of every day that is not made possible by the products of mining. This critical, pervasive role of mining means that it is fundamental to the world’s economies and to the well-being of all people.
Australia is one of the World’s leading mining countries and one of the largest exporters of mined products. Australia is also one of the most popular destinations for international students. In 2014 approximately 590,000 students from all over the World came to study in Australia – of these 110,000 entered a university degree programme. International students who graduate from Australian universities are eligible for a visa that allows them to remain in Australia for a period of 18 months after graduation to gain skilled work experience, complete a professional year or to improve their English language skills.
Mining Engineering is the profession that evaluates, designs and operates mines. A university degree in Mining Engineering provides the educational training for professional mining engineers and covers a wide range of areas including engineering, geology, mathematics, economics, management, finance, law, safety and the social and environmental aspects of mining. Apart from the obvious careers directly related to mining, graduates in mining engineering are also employed by banks, government agencies, national and international development agencies, civil engineering firms, software companies and equipment supply and manufacturing companies.
Students who study Mining Engineering in Australia have the distinct advantage of studying alongside possibly the largest, most diverse and dynamic mining industry in the world. This provides a study programme actively and continuously informed and updated by industry (including lectures from industry personnel and mine visits), a very wide range of possible vacation work-placements and many opportunities for employment after graduation.
Mining is very much an international industry and some of the world’s largest internationally operating mining companies are based in, and/or operate in, Australia. In addition to providing access to world-best practice in mining operations, this also provides the possibility of travel and working in other countries and, perhaps, even working in the home countries of international students.
An excellent example of the very close interaction between the Australian mining industry and Australian universities is Mining Education Australia (MEA), which was established in partnership with the Minerals Council of Australia (representing over 85% of the Australian mining industry). MEA is a joint venture of the University of Adelaide, Curtin University, the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland and is funded and supported by the Minerals Council. Its primary objective is to deliver a national collaborative Bachelor of Mining Engineering degree programme and it currently produces around 85% of Australia’s mining engineering graduates. MEA also comprises one of the largest concentrations of mining engineering research in the world and provides an invaluable research and development resource for the mining industry. In addition to MEA, Bachelor of Mining Engineering degree programmes are also offered in Australia by the University of Wollongong, Monash University and Federation University.
A Mining Engineering degree from an Australian university is accredited by the Institution of Engineers Australia. This ensures that the degree programme meets national and international benchmarks. Australian accreditation also complies with several international accords, which means that the Australian Mining Engineering degree is recognised throughout the world as satisfying the educational component for Professional Engineer level. Mining Engineering graduates are assured membership of the Institute of Engineers Australia at the relevant career grade, and enjoy reciprocal privileges from equivalent professional bodies outside Australia.