Thoughts on the responsibility of geotechnical engineers and hydrogeologists in mining
Mining Engineering, 2018, Vol. 70, No. 9, pp. 32-32
What is the primary responsibility of geo-engineers in mining? Early in my career, I was asked this question by an experienced engineer. After explaining some various tasks, I was informed that the main responsibility was to monitor. Although this proved true for many cases, I came to understand that monitoring is merely one means to achieve the primary responsibility of a geo-engineer — ensure the safety of all personnel. The potential for groundwater to impact stability allows this responsibility to be shared with hydrogeologists as well. Inherently, we monitor to identify risks; we analyze designs and develop models to mitigate risks; and we are provided opportunities to explain to supervisors the geo-risks to personnel and mine plans that will result from particular courses of action. A couple years ago, I took an opportunity to share experiences from the first several years of my career as a geotechnical engineer with junior geo-engineering staff within my company. The intent was to share situations that were a part of my development, so they could learn and understand their responsibility to the safety of all personnel. Similarly, the purpose of this article will be to share these thoughts with new geo-engineers in the industry in order to help prepare them for the challenges they will face.
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