MMForum: It all starts in M&M’s .. (Mining and Metallurgy)
A geology professor once asked his students to identify an object, inside the classroom, that was not a product of mining. None of the students were able to identify a single object. This scenario explains how important mining and metallurgy in human’s life. Metals became an important part of human survival and civilization. But lets have a background of what metallurgical engineering is all about.
From the definition of Metallurgy, “the art and science of extracting and refining metals from primary and secondary sources to characterize, process, and fabricate for application and use at a profit and with utmost consideration of the environment”, it gives people a sight of what Metallurgical Engineering course is all about. Nowadays, most of us are aware of the existence of the illegal small-scale mining. These illegal small-scale miners use harmful chemicals, like cyanide and mercury, to extract the valuable metals and dispose the unwanted, together with the harmful chemicals, directly to the river, polluting large bodies of water and affecting the health of not only the miners, but also the people living nearby.
In the study of metallurgical engineering, aspiring engineers are trained in certain ways to provide a safe and profitable metal production. First, from the definition of metallurgy, characterization plays an important part in providing a profitable metal production. A mineral that is well-characterize enables the process of separation of the ore from the gangue, by liberating the ore, to be done in a shorter time and less cost. Second is to process. Mineral processing and the extraction of metal require enormous amount of energy specially in today’s generation, wherein the size of the metals that can be extracted is in microns. This is where the engineering becomes an important part of the study. Aspiring engineers are expected to develop equipment that will satisfy the needs of the future generations when the metals are definitely harder to extract due to the decrease of their size. In processing, economics plays an important role. In a commodity market, higher grade metal is preferable and producing high grade at a low cost are the main objectives of any company. Third, to fabricate. Under the study of metallurgical engineering, physical metallurgy is one of the main topics discussed. In fabrication, the properties and behavior of a metal at certain conditions are examined to produce a high quality metal products.
Metallurgical engineering are often mistaken as a branch of other well-known engineering course. This field of engineering, specially in the Philippines, consists a small percentage of population in the ‘engineering world’. But through this course, where metal is the center of the study, public highways, buildings, and houses were able to be constructed, electrical wiring are made, machines are operated, and mining was being credited and used for.
This study is an important requirement for metal production in order to serve human needs without the abuse of the natural resources. And of course, any type of business aims for a profit than cost. This course gives idea to an aspiring engineer regarding to what must be done for the generations to come in order to maximize the supply of the increasing demand.