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How my studies will help me enable safe and profitable mineral production and/or differentiate in commodity markets once I enter the working world.

 

Shocking!!! Being the fastest growing industry in the world at a 21% growth rating by Forbes, it is shocking that the Mining Industry still has some bad accidents records, Turkey, China, Colombia, South Africa are just some of many countries to be hit by mining accidents recently. So imagine of a billion-dollars-profit-making Industry with the safest working conditions, cool hunh!! Here’s how we get there.

Safety has to be the key to any human task. Lives are a lot more important than anything, mind you, we don’t have spare lives. Mining accidents have been linked to several causes as of lately, some saying Privatization of mines may be the cause, I however, think the cause to be more professional than political. Mining engineers are emphasized more than enough on the safety of the workers in the mines. The key to safe mines lies in the design, construction and support phases of mine development. The Mine design depends on the conditions of the area to be mined as well as mining equipment, a well-designed mine can assure more than 70% safety. But does poor designing account for all these accidents in the field? Of course not. Designing and modelling ends only on paper, but then comes the crucial part of construction and supporting of excavations. Now note that construction and support are only well done if they are a result of a good design, if you construct different from the design then you are constructing something that has not been tested and modelled and the risk of accidents rises right back. I really think mine designers and construction team should work firmly together to make sure the job is done as well as possible. A good mine design coupled with a well-constructed and supported mine equals ’near perfect working environment and safety’.

Now turning to the real reason why all this matters, the profit part of the industry. The mining Industry is probably one the most profitable industries out there, but hey, profit is never enough, our daily goal is to maximize it. Profit in any industry is simply maximized by minimizing costs of production and maximizing value of outputs, that’s a rule of thumb. In mining industry, I think the trick lies in the Exploration, Designing, Construction, Exploitation and finally the Processing stages. Exploration, meaning prediction of existence of profitable mineral ores in a new area, may be key since its the first stage of mine development and if done right will make sure that the coming stages are actually going to be working on a potentially profitable area. Then comes the designing and construction, here we just need to minimize the costs. It is always smart to have construction going on as well as initial exploitation. But the real difference is made in the processing stage. Here is where minerals are extracted from their ores and this is when a seemingly valueless rock can turn into a precious gemstone. We need to improve processing methods to get the most out the ores. So to improve the profits in the mining industry we should as well spend less during the production process but earn more from the output.

It is all in the curriculum and you wonder what may be going wrong, but hey, even people taking same piano lessons don’t play equally nice. It all boils down to one simple fact, “Individual perfection is the key to safer and profitable working environment”. I am Emmanuel Chegeni, a Mining Engineering student at the University of Dar es salaam, Tanzania, and one day I am going to engineer the safest and most profit-making mine on the Earth.

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