In a broad sense geology is the study of the rocks, minerals and structure of the Earth as well as the movement and changes occurring during the Earth’s history. As a result of the processes that took place on the surface and in depth, certain minerals and elements have been concentrated in specific areas to form mineral deposits. It is the geologist’s responsibility, in co-operation with the mining engineer and other professionals, to locate and evaluate such deposits and to determine whether they can be exploited economically.
If a deposit is proved to be viable, a mine is developed to extract the economic ore. The ore is mined and beneficiated through different metallurgical processes to produce a marketable mineral concentrate. During the mining operation the geologist is responsible for determining the location and grade of the ore and ensuring that the ore is mined to maximise the profitable extraction of the ore deposit.
Geologists will be responsible for a programme of exploration to establish the extent of the ore body so that the life of the mining operation can be prolonged. In this respect the geologist will need to be familiar with the structure of the rock formations and have a broad knowledge of minerals, their properties and appearances. Their interpretation of the samples from exploration drilling programmes is critical to decision-making processes, as it ensures the continued profitability of the mining and metallurgical operations.
The Geologist is therefore one of the key contributors to the welfare of the mining industry.