Mining Geotechnical Engineering: Salary, Benefits & How To Get Started

What can you expect to get paid as a Mining Geotechnical Engineer in Australia? We discuss this as well as the qualifications, skills & experience you'll need, and the work-life balance you can expect to have.

black and white aerial image of a coal stockpile at a Polish coal mine

Geotechnical engineering is one of the most in-demand and highly-paid technical roles in the Australian mining industry, and it will likely remain this way for decades to come. If you’re reading this post, you may be considering becoming or are currently interviewing for a position as a Mining Geotechnical Engineer at a mining operation in Australia.

MineWork is here to help you figure out your next career move and help you get established in the Australian mining sector. In this article, we dive into the nitty-gritty of Mining Geotechnical Engineering jobs, including indicative salaries and the qualifications, skills and experience you'll need to succeed.

? What is a Mining Geotechnical Engineer?

Before we dive into the details, you may be wondering what exactly a mining geotechnical engineer is?

In mine site-based roles, geotechnical engineers are technical professionals hired to mitigate and assess geological and geotechnical risks posed to mining operations. They often report directly to senior technical services managers, either on their own or as part of a small team.

? What Does a Mining Geotechnical Engineer Do?

A Mining Geotechnical Engineer’s job is to solve complex geological and geotechnical problems which may otherwise hold-up the safe and efficient operation of a mining operation. However, things can vary greatly based on the employer, the mining environment (e.g., open cut/pit vs underground), commodity (e.g., coal vs base metals), and the job itself when it comes to the average day on the job, responsibilities, roster, and work-life balance.

For example, these are some of the key responsibilities and accountabilities of a Mining Geotechnical Engineer at an open pit mine:

  • Providing the geotechnical support to the business and personnel of the open pit operation and working with multiple stakeholders
  • Proactively managing geotechnical hazards and risks through compliance with the Slope and Dump Management Plan (SDMP)
  • Gathering geotechnical data by conducting pit wall mapping and UAV photogrammetry for slope reconciliation reports
  • Conducting geotechnical inspections and providing geotechnical advice to production and mine planning
  • Undertaking design of the slope monitoring system including installation and performance management (e.g., slope stability radars (SSR) and laser scanners)
  • Providing input to drill and blast design to ensure wall control compliance
  • Carrying out operational design reviews of pits, dumps and land bridges using commercial slope stability software

At some mining operations, Mining Geotechnical Engineers will have more of an overseers role and will engage regularly with external independent geotechnical consultants (which is common at mining operations run by larger mining companies), while at other sites, they will be given more responsibility and autonomy (such as smaller and mid-tier companies. Much of this is driven by the mine owner's risk profile, budget, and the type of mining operation.

? What Qualifications & Certifications Do I Need?

To work as a Geotechnical Engineer at an open cut coal mine in Australia, you'll need to have completed:

? What Skills & Experience Do I Need?

There are several experience level-based roles and employment pathways available to Mining Geotechnical Engineers keen to ply their trade at open cut mines in Australia. These include:

  • Undergraduate/Student Vacation Programs
  • Graduate Programs
  • Junior to Mid-Level
  • Senior/Principal Level

There are 3 main skill sets required to work as a Mining Geotechnical Engineer:

1/ Geology

An appreciation and understanding of geology and how it underpins the geomechanical behaviour of sedimentary rock masses.

2/ Mining Software & Technology

An aptitude for learning and applying mining and geotechnical software to specific mining geotechnical problems, specifically:

3/ Engineering Judgement

Engineering judgement is one of the most important aspects to practical geotechnical engineering. Combining fundamental engineering knowledge and concepts with acquired mining operational experience is one of the reasons that geotechnical engineering professionals are in such high demand throughout Australia's open cut coal mining industry.

What is a Typical Salary for a Mining Geotechnical Engineer?

Whether it's passion or the high-earning potential that drove you to consider a job in mining in Australia, you're probably wondering what salary and benefits you can achieve.

While salaries can differ between mining environment (i.e., open cut/pit versus underground mines), commodity type (e.g., coal versus metalliferous mines), roster type (e.g., FIFO versus residential), and employer (e.g., mining company versus mining contractor/consultant), indicative base salaries for Mining Geotechnical Engineers in Australia in 2024 are:

  •  AU$110,000 per year for graduate/entry-level geotechnical engineers
  • AU$160,000 per year for intermediate level geotechnical engineers
  • AU$200,000+ per year for experienced, RPEQ-accredited geotechnical engineers.

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