The old joke is that engineers make big rocks into small rocks and that’s at least partly why mining companies need and employ engineers. An unknown person once said that mining companies need a couple of geologists around to have someone to blame when something goes awry. Why then, do mining companies need and employ geologists?
The broadest, most general purpose of mining geology is to understand the orebody and its environs. This is not merely academic. Consider these very real and practical examples. Mineralogical and textural characteristics of the ore affect metallurgical processing. Fault planes and intersections affect geotechnical stability and hydrology. Alteration zones may be acid neutralizing or acid producing, impacting metallurgical processing and environmental controls.
Geologists are involved in each stage of the mining cycle from conceptual planning, exploration and discovery, development and production through closure and rehabilitation. They collect data, analyze its importance, act on its results and deal with its consequences. “….The basic geology must come first-and if it is wrong, everything that follows will probably be wrong” (quote from Wallace, 1975, Mining Engineering, v. 27, pp 34-36).
Here’s a white paper we put together several years ago that provides a bit more detail.