Mining, Energy & Utilities
Metallurgists study, develop and apply processes to extract minerals from their ores for use in metal refining.
What does a Metallurgist do?
Metallurgists study, develop and apply processes to extract minerals from their ores for use in metal refining. They work with metals and alloys used in the development, production and manufacturing of metal items and structures that range from small precision-made components to huge heavy engineering parts.
As a metallurgist, you would:
- apply physical and chemical methods to separate valuable minerals from their ores (rock)
- design processes to reduce minerals to metals and alloys
- design and operate plants to produce concentrated mineral products and metals
- supervise sampling from various stages of processing
- improve processing methods to improve recovery and quality as well as to reduce waste and costs
- develop and control methods of storing and treating waste material
- assure extraction and manufacturing processes meet environmental requirements.
Key skills and interests
To become a metallurgist, you would need:
- to like chemistry, maths and physics
- to be interested in engineering and science
- the ability to identify, analyse and solve problems
- an aptitude for computing and design
- good oral and written communication skills
- to be able to work independently or as part of a team.
Working hours and conditions
In a full-time job you would usually work a standard number of hours, Monday to Friday. If you worked at mine sites, this might include shift work or fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) hours.
Metallurgists work at mines and mineral processing sites, and in research centres or offices. Working at mine sites may involve travel, FIFO conditions, or long periods away from home.
How to become an Metallurgist?
Entry Level Education
To become a metallurgist you usually have to complete a degree in metallurgical or chemical engineering, or science with a major in metallurgy. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Graduates of accredited courses may be eligible to join the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM), Engineers Australia or Materials Australia.
Overall growth in employment of metallurgists is expected to be slower than the average for all jobs.
Demand for metallurgists is dependent on the level of activity in the mining, metals and materials manufacturing industries. The mining industry in Australia has been experiencing a downturn in recent years, and this has flowed onto metals and materials manufacturing, creating a slowdown in those industries also.