Top 10: Mining Schools

We explore the world's top mining schools, from the US, Australia, Canada & South Africa, including Colorado School of Mines & Curtin University

Mining schools are a vital part of the mining landscape. Among the areas in which they specialise are geology, mineral processing, engineering, safety, and environmental management. On the engineering front, mining as a field is highly interdisciplinary, encompassing aspects of mechanical, civil, and environmental engineering.

Curricula have evolved rapidly in recent years. As well as a focus on extraction techniques, courses now encompass sustainability, community relations and automation. Technology is reshaping curricula. McGill University, Canada, teaches robotic mining, while the University of Queensland, Australia, incorporates artificial intelligence and virtual reality into its programs.

Qualifications range from one-year certificates to four-year bachelor degrees and doctoral programs. The University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, offers a two-year Master's in Rock Engineering. Programmes cater to geologists, mining engineers, metallurgists, environmental managers, and health and safety officers. Entry requirements vary from high school diplomas for technician courses to bachelor's degrees for postgraduate study.

Australia, Canada, the US and South Africa lead in mining education. Universities, technical colleges, and industry bodies deliver training. The Mining Industry Human Resources Council in Canada provides online courses.

Both open-cast and underground mining techniques and knowledge are taught. Institutions like Curtin University, Australia, covers open-cast pit design, slope stability, equipment operation, and land reclamation. Underground mining courses at Colorado School of Mines, US, concentrate on ventilation, rock mechanics, support systems, and tunnelling methods.

Annual tuition fees range from $5,000 at technical colleges to $50,000 at private universities. Montana Tech, US, charges $7,600 for in-state students. International students at the University of British Columbia, Canada, pay $54,000. Some schools, like the University of Zambia, offer government-subsidised rates of around $3,000.

The most effective mining engineering programmes offer topics ranging from surface mining to control. In addition to these core subjects, mining engineers must possess proficiency in mathematics, geology, mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and computing.

Here, we take a look at the world's top 10 mining schools.

10 University of Witwatersrand

Location: Johanessburg, South Africa
The University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa has a variety of mining-related programmes, including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in mining engineering, geology, and related fields.

In addition to the mining engineering program, Wits also offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in geology. These programs cover a range of topics, including mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, and structural geology.

09 Pennsylvania State University

Location: US
Penn State University offers a mining engineering programme through its College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The programme provides students with a comprehensive education in mining engineering and related fields. 

The programme is designed to prepare students for careers in the mining industry, and students have the opportunity to participate in internships and co-op programs with mining companies during their studies.

08 University of British Columbia

Location: Canada
The University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada is home to one of the world's top mining engineering programmes.

The Department of Mining Engineering offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in mining engineering, mineral processing, and related fields.

The mining engineering program at UBC covers a range of topics, including mine design, rock mechanics, mine safety, and mineral economics. The program also emphasises sustainable mining practices and environmental stewardship.

Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities and technologies, including a rock mechanics laboratory and a mine ventilation simulator.

7. Queen's University

Location: Canada
​​​​​​​Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, offers a highly-regarded mining engineering programme through its Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining. The department offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in mining engineering, mineral processing, and related fields.

The programme offers a Bachelor of Mining Engineering degree that includes courses in core subjects such as mineral processing, mine design, rock mechanics, surface mining, underground mining, and environmental management.

06 University of Western Australia

Location: Australia
The programme at the University of Western Australia offers a Bachelor of Mining Engineering degree that includes courses in core subjects such as mineral processing, mine design, rock mechanics, surface mining, underground mining, and environmental management. 

UWA's Mining Engineering programme provides students with hands-on experience through field trips, laboratory work, and practical work experience with mining companies. Students also have the opportunity to participate in research projects and internships with mining companies, providing them with valuable industry experience.

05 University of New South Wales 

Location: Australia
The UNSW Mining Engineering programme covers various topics, including mineral exploration, mine design and planning, rock mechanics, underground and open pit mining, mineral processing, and mine safety and environmental management.

At the undergraduate level, students can enrol in a Bachelor of Mining Engineering program, which takes four years to complete. This program provides a strong foundation in the principles of mining engineering and includes hands-on experience in the industry through internships and work placements.

At postgraduate level, UNSW offers a Master of Mining Engineering program, which can be completed in one or two years, depending on the student's background and experience. This program provides advanced knowledge and skills in mining engineering and includes opportunities for research and industry engagement.

04 McGill University

Location: Canada

McGill University, in Montreal, has the distinction of being Canada's oldest mining school, having celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2021.

The mining engineering programme a part of the Faculty of Engineering and includes several specialised laboratories such as the Mine Design and Numerical Modelling Laboratory, the COSMO (Stochastic Mining Planning) Laboratory, the Mineral Economics, Mine Reliability and Asset Management Laboratory, and the Geomechanics Laboratory.

The university's research groups include the Earth/Mine Energy Resource Group (EMERG), which explores sustainable energy development from active and abandoned mines, and the Mine Multiphysics Research Group, which conducts modelling studies of multiscale and multiphysical challenges in mining, minerals, and energy extraction.

03 University of Queensland

Location: Australia
UQ offers a range of mining and engineering courses, including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Mechanical, Aerospace, Biomedical, Materials, Mechatronic, Mining, and Geotechnical engineering. 

The university's mining engineering programme offers graduate opportunities, including a Master of Engineering Science (Mining), a Master of Philosophy (Mining Engineering), and a PhD in Mining Engineering. These studies are designed to provide advanced knowledge and skills in mining engineering and offer opportunities for research and industry collaboration.

02 Curtin University

Location: Australia
Located in Perth, the WA School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering is a school that brings together the engineering, economics, and science disciplines. It has formed as a result of consolidation and attracts significant industry partnerships and investment for advanced facilities.

The school operates from two campuses, one in Perth and another in the historic mining town of Kalgoorlie, which is situated in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.

Curtin University has maintained its position as the world’s second-ranked university and number one in Australia for mineral and mining engineering for the seventh year in a row in the 2023 QS World University Rankings by Subject.

01 Colorado School of Mines

Topping the list is perhaps the world's most renowned school for mining, Colorado School of Mines tops the QS World University Rankings. Situated in Golden, Colorado, near the Colorado Mineral Belt, the university is home to a distinguished faculty led by Prof. M. Stephen Enders and Prof. Jürgen Brune, along with 10 other staff members.

The Mining Engineering Department of the school oversees the Edgar Experimental Mine, which serves as an underground laboratory for students to obtain practical training in a range of areas such as underground mine surveying, geological mapping, rock fragmentation and blasting techniques, mine ventilation, rock mechanics instrumentation, and mine safety.

Apart from its degree programmes, the department also provides the Energy, Mining and Construction Industry Safety Program, which includes a mine rescue training facility for use by the mining industry. Training courses are held either at the Edgar mine or on-site at mines throughout the U.S. and can be customised to suit the particular needs and conditions of almost any mining environment.

Photo by Skyler Pivic/Colorado School of Mines
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