The mining industry is a dynamic, exciting and an amazingly diverse sector with more than 120 occupations ranging from skilled trades to high tech professionals.

If mining is an industry you are considering a career in, have you considered what it would be like to be a Surveyor in mining?


Jacob Munthali a Surveyor in Zambia in tells us all about his job.

By : Jacob Munthali

“Safety Health Environmental and Quality (SHEQ) Toolbox

As a Mine Surveyor, I start my day with my colleagues in the Technical Department by having a Safety talk known as ‘toolbox talk’. The team members include members from other disciplines such as Geologists, Geotechnical Engineers, Mine Planners, Mine Schedulers, Surveyors and other staff within the Technical Department. The purpose of this safety talk is to identify hazards using safety techniques such as 10 Golden Rules, take 5, and to learn from previous accidents and incidents and to investigate why accidents and incidents occurred using safety techniques such as 5 whys.

Having identified hazards and learnt from previous accidents and incidents, we then as a team plan and put in place effective control measures for safety and health of personnel, equipment and environment during the progress of daily tasks to eliminate any Incidents and possible accidents. We also put in place emergency Action Plan for rapid response in an event of an accident. Only thereafter, will I be ready to start my shift and carry out my daily tasks in the field together with my team.

As a Mine Surveyor, I am responsible for managing, supervising, and to carry out training and mentoring of my team members and to train them with various survey techniques in order to carry out our survey daily routine works more efficiently and accurately.

It is my role and that of my team, to pick up and maintain all spatial data on mine site. This spatial data is used for various requirements such as volume calculations of mined quantities from the pit, stockpiled quantities and volumes at the waste dumps. This spatial data is also used among other requirements, in DTM modeling for mine planning and scheduling, blast designs and other mine designs and mine Infrastructure developments. It is also my responsibility to carryout setting out and positioning for various requirements such as drill holes and delineating of mineral polygons.

It is my duty and that of my team members to carry out all Cadastral Surveys and applications regarding Servitude, Cadastral boundary clearances for mine tenements and to carry out all surveys and mapping for mine exploration and mining operations.

In order to carry out all this as a Mine Surveyor, I need to have an eye for detail, a careful touch, an analytical mind, strong organization and communication skills and leadership ability.

Survey Equipment
I and my team use modern survey equipment such as Digital Levels, Robotic Total Station, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Base and Rover Receivers, LDV Mounted Mobile 3D Laser Scanner to carry out daily survey pickups and setting out. It is my responsibility to maintain survey equipment and to carry out calibration checks so that equipment is giving correct readings at all times because there is no room for error. If equipment is found to be faulty, it must be reported immediately and start making shipping arrangements to equipment manufactures for repairing and possible replacements.

Office work
After a busy fieldwork, I and my survey crew return to office to download data and to put batteries on a charger in readiness for next day fieldwork tasks. I then carry out analysis of Surveyed Spatial data using Computer Aided Modelling Software in processes called Digital Terrain Modelling (DTM) or 3D Modelling (3DM). I carry out computations, calculations, checks and balances on data to ensure integrity and accuracy order is of high standards. I then export processed spatial data to various formats so that it can be used by other members of the team such as Geologists, Mine Planners, Geotechnical Engineers, Legal department personnel, Environmental Officers to mention but a few.

As a Mine Surveyor, I need to satisfy all users of spatial data on mine site for their requirements and standards. I need to make follow ups to get feedback on data results and to strategize on improvements of data going forward to meet various data requirements and standards.

Challenges and What I like about the Job
Challenges such as weather challenges are encountered during fieldwork surveys. When it rains, ramps and haul roads become very slippery to drive on. I therefore, need to get back to office before it starts raining or I and my team remain in a safe place until it stops raining. Ramps and haul roads must become safe before we can drive on.

It is also a challenge to survey faces of the pit using equipment such as GPS and none Laser Total Stations. Area very close to faces of the pit is very unsafe to work in because of loose fragments of rocks failing from the face. As a safety rule, we need to keep a distance of more than 10m away from the face of the pit. The only way we get around this challenge is by using a Laser Scanner or Reflector-less Long Range Laser Total Station. With Scanner or Reflector-less total station, we are able to survey accurately the faces of the pit. Thumbs up to this innovation!

I like and enjoy working as a Mine Surveyor. My desk is a hub of mine site spatial data information and this gives me a leverage to get to know what other departments are doing or intend to do in a short to medium term. This makes me to be proactive and always to be a step ahead in planning my work. My job also gives me opportunity to interact with all other members on mine site and as such my job as a Mine Surveyor is never boring and I am always up to speed with my work.”


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