Minerals surveyors assess the commercial potential for areas to be used as mining, quarrying or landfill sites. Once they have identified viable areas, they manage the site, value its assets and deal with the ownership rights.
They also assess the environmental impact of the development sites due to growing concerns over the environmental implications of such installations. As a result, they must also advise on the restoration of the site once the raw materials have been extracted.
Minerals surveyors have various responsibilities from the beginning of a project through to the end. Key responsibilities include conducting an initial survey of the site and risk assessment to ensure its viability, predicting its environmental impact - from waste disposal to noise and dust emissions - and researching tax records and the site’s ownership to negotiate contracts for leasing, owning or accessing the site.
Other key duties include charting surface areas using global positioning systems (GPS), building 3D models using computer aided design (CAD) and digital imaging software to map the site, as well as evaluating the value of the deposit. They also have to advise on the development and management of site safety, collect samples and record the results. They may also need to inform the local community about what is happening and advise engineers on the restoration of the site to its original state or suggest new developments.
- Communication and presentation skills
- Skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics
- Familiarity with surveying technology and CAD programs
- Organisational skills
- Observational and analytical skills
- Project management skills
- Ability to interpret maps, charts and graphical data
- Knowledge of mineral properties, mineral estate economics, planning legislation and health and safety
- IT skills
- Environmental knowledge
- You may also need a driving licence to travel to meetings, site visits and inspections.
You will need a degree or professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to start a career as a minerals surveyor. Relevant degree subjects include civil or mining engineering, geology, surveying, geography and environmental geosciences.
If you do not have a degree that is accredited by the RICS, you can try and apply for a conversion course in order to apply for chartered membership with the RICS.
An RICS accredited degree is often sufficient to enable you to start a career as a minerals surveyor. If you don’t have this but have a HND (Higher National Diploma) or a foundation degree in surveying, you can also enter the industry but would normally start with a more junior role such as a surveying technician to gain enough experience and work your way up to being a fully fledged surveyor. You would then be expected to complete an accredited degree or postgraduate degree during your employment.
Students who are interested in a career in surveying would give themselves an advantage by gaining voluntary work experience before they graduate. Students can also apply for RICS student membership for free - a useful platform you can use to connect with other surveyors and read about the latest developments in the industry.
The working hours are usually 35 to 40 hours per week and you are likely to work early mornings, late nights and some weekends depending on deadlines. Your duties will be split between office and onsite work. Some may require staying overnight, depending on the site location.
The starting salary for a minerals surveyor is approximately £20,000 to £25,000 per annum. Once you have gained more experience, you can earn up to £45,000. If you become a chartered minerals surveyor, you can earn over £50,000 per annum.
Minerals surveyors typically work for private coal mining and quarrying companies, mineral estate owners, HM Customs and Revenue’s Mineral Valuations Office and local authorities. In order to progress to more senior posts, you will need to gain chartered status with the RICS and continue your learning and development. You may also be able to transfer to other areas of surveying as an alternative career step.
Your next steps may include:
- Senior minerals surveyor
- Chartered minerals surveyor
- Technical director
- Associate director
- Land surveyor
- Planning and development roles
- Overseas opportunities