Case study

Mining engineer — Jordan Harris

Despite the responsibility and pressure that comes with the role, mining engineer Jordan finds the work stimulating and rewarding…

How did you get your job?

I graduated with a BEng in Mining Engineering from Camborne School of Mines (CSM), University of Exeter.

I am currently a graduate mining engineer in short-term planning at Ernest Henry Mining (EHM), part of Glencore, a sub-level cave underground copper mine in Queensland, Australia.

I spent my first year at university gathering as many industry contacts as I could and I sent emails to all of them, expressing my desire to gain an industry work placement during my summer holidays. Through this method I secured a first-year work placement at Mount Isa Copper Operations, Glencore Copper Australia (Formerly Xstrata Copper Australia).

I returned to Mount Isa for my second-year placement where I then acquired contacts for Ernest Henry Mining. I wouldn’t have gained a graduate job at this mine without the industry experience I gained during my student years at CSM.

Do whatever you can to gain industry experience while you’re at university and don’t rely on your grades alone to win you a job

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I’ve spent the past 12 months working underground full time, circulating through the different departments. I have gained experience in almost all aspects of work underground, from loading drill steels and rock bolts on a jumbo miner to installing service pipe work underground, to handling explosives and helping charge development and production holes ready for blasting.

This experience is an essential component of the Australian Underground Mine Managers ticket. I have recently started work in my new role as a short-term development planning engineer.

My career aspirations are to become a true industry professional, with a strong level of competence in all aspects of underground mining engineering, operations control and business directive management. From there, who knows where the industry will take me.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Everything. Spending a lot of time underground talking with the crews is great fun and gives a sense of reality to the technical design work that I do in the office.

There is a lot of responsibility and pressure that comes with sustaining mine development; this keeps me fascinated in what I do. Every day has been a learning experience since I started work at EHM.

EHM is innovative in terms of mine design; there are not many copper mines in the world like it. Many of the risks we take are relatively unmeasured compared to other operations, but the rewards gained from successful production can be huge in comparison. This helps to make every decision that’s made here exciting and challenging.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Understanding the different factors that affect mine design has been the biggest challenge so far. Gaining familiarity with mine procedures has also been a steep learning curve; there is a set sequence in which all aspect of operations must be carried out.

What are the best things about working in this sector?

The mining industry is not as big as other key sectors, but it is global. It’s very easy to come in to contact with mining professionals from all around the world.

The ladder to success can also be prompt; it’s not uncommon for mining engineers to become mine managers within ten years of graduation.

Salaries are also exceptional compared to most other industries; this has to be one of the major benefits of taking a job as an engineer on a mine site.

What advice would you give to others who would like to get into this career?

Do whatever you can to gain industry experience while you’re at university and don’t rely on your grades alone to win you a job. Potential employers will take someone they know is fit for the job before someone they don’t.

Gaining a network of professional contacts and industry experience are both as critical to success as the degree itself, especially if you are targeting specific sectors of the mining industry, such as underground hard rock mines or open pits.

Make sure you enjoy your time studying and working; the last five years since I enrolled at CSM have been the most exciting years of my life.