What Does a Mine Surveyor Do? (With Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whenever a mining company identifies a mining area, they hire mine surveyors to assess the location and certify mining plans. The surveyor's findings help the mine operator determine the safety and viability of mines. Knowing what a mine surveyor does can help you determine whether it's a worthwhile career path for you. In this article, we explore the role of a mine surveyor by looking at their duties, primary skills, average salary and the steps to pursue a career in mine surveying.

What does a mine surveyor do?

The simple answer to 'what does a mine surveyor do' is that they use scientific tools and surveying skills to map out mineral deposits and determine the commercial viability of potential and existing mines. They also create mine plans to accurately represent surface and underground mining activities.

Listed below are the primary duties of a mine surveyor:

  • Certify the accuracy of underground surveys and surface mining plans

  • Indicate the risks or dangers at a mining location on a mine plan sheet

  • Carry out initial surveys and assessments on potential sites

  • Chart surface areas using GPS

  • Create 3D models of mining sites using digital imaging and design software

  • Prepare mine plans and liaise with relevant authorities

  • Use geographic information systems to create site maps, including mine structures and deposit layers

  • Identify risks and the environmental effects of mining activities within a location

  • Negotiate contracts to buy, lease or provide access to mining sites

  • Review ownership rights or native titles

  • Carry out a valuation of mineral deposits within a mine

  • Update site maps and mine plans for ongoing mine development

  • Advise mine owners and operators on how best to restore the landscape

Related: What Does a Quantity Surveyor Do and How to Become One

Top skills for mine surveyors

Mining surveyors are naturally analytical, observant and resourceful individuals. Below are some of the most important skills necessary for the role:

  • Spatial perception and imagination: Mine surveyors often compare and contrast graphic representations of large areas, both above and underground, on plans and blueprints. Strong spatial and imagination skills enable surveyors to identify geographic changes when mapping out potential mine locations.

  • Surveying: Surveyors use various tools, technologies and methods to perform surface and underground surveys for mines. Strong surveying skills help them determine potential mineral deposits.

  • Organisation: Surveyors tackle different tasks with competing priorities and deadlines. Strong organisational skills enable them to complete survey tasks on time and without too much effort.

  • Attention to detail: Accuracy is important when preparing site maps and legal documents with fine details. By being meticulous, surveyors can produce error-free maps, charts, models and plans for their clients.

  • Analytical: Surveyors collect a lot of geospatial data which they then analyse and interpret. Having the ability to accurately analyse data and information ensures they reach an objective conclusion.

  • Physical stamina: Surveying work can be physically demanding. This role involves walking long distances, standing for many hours in all types of weather and that's all while carrying heavy packs of surveying instruments.

  • Flexibility: Unpredictable schedules and travelling are often part of a mine surveyor's role. Flexibility ensures they're able to tackle any kind of work, including resource extraction projects in remote areas.

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Surveyors use GIS technology to record and present spatial information such as maps, reports, and charts. GIS skills enable the surveyor to overlay aerial or satellite images with GIS data to create digital maps, which they share with planners and engineers.

  • Collaboration: While surveying technology now allows them to perform some tasks alone, other tasks require surveyors to work with landscape architects, cartographers and civil engineers. Having the ability to work with a diverse team enables mine surveyors to develop comprehensive and accurate mine plans.

How to become a mine surveyor

If this sounds like a career you're interested in, follow this step-by-step guide on how to become a mine surveyor:

1. Complete a surveying degree

Start by completing an accredited degree in surveying, geospatial science, spatial science or geographical information systems at university. Take courses that build your knowledge and skills in mine surveying. Good grades, or demonstratable skills, in English, mathematics and physics are common prerequisites for joining a surveying course in most universities.

2. Gain mine surveying experience

After completing a bachelor's degree in surveying, you want to undergo training. Mine surveying jobs usually require four years of practical experience and training under a licensed surveyor. Trainees usually support the surveying team with their tasks both in the field and in the office. Some educational institutions may allow you to substitute years of education with work experience and supervised training.

3. Apply for a mine surveyor's certificate

It's crucial to complete registration before you can work as a mine surveyor. The requirements for applying for certification can vary depending on your territory. The typical requirements for surveyor registration are a relevant degree, practical experience in the field and competence exhibited through technical projects. Registration as a surveyor typically involves paying some fees and applying with accompanying documentation. Check the eligibility requirements for your territory before you apply. The following agencies are responsible for licensing:

  • New South Wales: Board of Surveying and Spatial Information of NSW

  • Northern Territory: Surveyors Board of the Northern Territory of Australia

  • Queensland: Surveyors Board Queensland

  • South Australia: Surveyors Board SA

  • Victoria: Surveyors Registration Board of Victoria

  • Western Australia: Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety

  • Australian Capital Territory: Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate

  • Tasmania: Surveyor General and Tasmanian Land Surveyors Accreditation Board

4. Find mine surveying jobs

Once you get certified as a mine surveyor, you can start looking for mine surveying jobs. Indeed Jobs is a good starting place as it features various surveying jobs. Create an account, then upload your CV. To have the highest chance of success while applying, write unique cover letters for each role and tailor your CV to the job requirements if you're unable to apply with your Indeed CV. To get job updates via email, sign up for Indeed job alerts.

5. Join a professional body

You might want to consider joining a professional association like the Australian Institute of Mine Surveyors (AIMS). AIMs represents mine operators, surveyors and educational organisations on various mine surveying issues. A membership with this body provides you with knowledge sharing and networking opportunities in the form of seminars and conferences. You also get professional support, unfettered access to AIMs website, resources related to the field and the latest job openings.

Related: How to Become a Surveyor

Frequently asked questions on mine surveying jobs

Below are answers to the most common questions concerning the work of mine surveyors:

What qualification does a mine surveyor need?

The required qualifications for a mine surveyor vary depending on the role and employer. Common requirements include a surveying degree, an authorised mine surveyor's certificate and at least one year of experience in mine operations and surveying. Candidates with technical abilities and a strong understanding of longhole mining are an asset to any mine operator.

Is mine surveying a rewarding career?

Mining surveying is both challenging and rewarding. The job of a mining surveyor could appeal to you if are physically fit, love working outdoors and show great attention to detail. Surveying work provides good remuneration, the freedom to work outside and the opportunity to collaborate with other professionals in your field.

Do I need good maths skills to be a mine surveyor?

Yes, you do need strong maths skills to fulfil the responsibilities of this role. Mine surveyors perform various duties involving measuring angles, calculating distance and running computations. Algebra, trigonometry and geometry are useful areas of mathematics to be knowledgeable of.

How long does it take to become a mine surveyor?

It may take up to seven years to become a fully licensed mine surveyor. Undergraduate students spend fours years pursuing their bachelor's degrees. They also undergo mandatory two-year traineeships under the direction of a licensed surveyor before they can start working.

What is the average mine surveyor salary?

The average salary of a mine surveyor is $102,523 per year. Salary figures may vary depending on experience, location and employer. Senior mine surveyors usually earn more than their juniors in entry-level or mid-level mine surveying roles.

Where do mine surveyors work?

Mine surveyors usually work in open-cut and underground mines, identifying limits for excavation and marketing drill patterns for blasting purposes. In underground mines, surveyors determine and control the location and direction of tunnels. Surveyors who work in open-cut mines prepare mine plans and estimate the volume of mineral ores in the identified deposits.

What are the typical working hours and conditions for mine surveyors?

Surveyors might do both office work and fieldwork depending on their specific duties. Most professionals in this field work full time. Hours vary depending on whether they're undertaking fieldwork or office duties. When working outside, mine surveyors may stand or walk for several hours in different types of weather.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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