25h Th, 15h Pr, 2d FW
Number of credits
Language(s) of instruction
Organisation and examination
Teaching in the second semester
Units courses prerequisite and corequisite
Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program
Learning unit contents
This course is mainly an introduction to the extractive industry : underground mines, open pits and quarries (excluding oil and gas extraction).
The mining industry extracts metallic ores and other important commodities (i.e. fertilizer precursors), solid fuels, industrial minerals and construction materials. In the alloted time, the course presents an overview of the very large span of exploitation methods and specific mining equipements.
The course begins with a presentation of the markets of several important commodities, and the main factors which sustain them and ensure their growth.
The presentation of the technical aspects, of the necessary equipments and of the exploitation methods, in correspondance with the ore/resource geology, is the core part of the course.
Along the lessons, several other subjects are presented : safety, environmental impact, cost optimisation, stability (or adequate planing) of the mine production for the internal or external end user, inclusion of the activity in the socio-economic environment.
Unlike to numerous classical university level subjects, this course content is quite different and doesn't focus on a specific science or technique, but describes an industry in all its complexity, sometimes ignored or not so well understood, sometimes rejected by the general public.
Contrary to some popular belief, the mining industry plays an essential role in the global economy. Our societies are hungry for raw materials, and societal issues related to this industry will continue to weigh heavily in the development of the world economy to the near and distant future. At world scale, our needs in raw materials and their flow around the planet are enormous, and still constantly growing.
Beyond the technical kowledge, the course has other ideas to pass:
- Mining is a leading industry, always actively looking for new technologies (sometimes as a precursor) and economic performances
- necessarily it will continue for the foreseeable future to be one of the pillars of the development of our societies
- the primary responsibility of this industry is to ensure its operation by offering security at work and effective protection of the environment
- the smooth functioning of this industry necessarily requires an understanding and mutual respect between the parties (stakeholders): the mining company, firstly, and on the other hand: the national authorities (sometimes supranational: UN, World Bank, ...), the company workforce, the local communities, the local and international NGOs, the economic operators around the mining operation, ...
Learning outcomes of the learning unit
A the end of the course, you should be able to act knowingly in a mining environment, mastering the following aquired knowledges: techniques, vocabulary (in French and in English *), environmental intricacies, societal issues.
You will have in hand the basic notions to assess the importance of an exploration discovery, in view of its possible development as a mining project, or assess the economic importance of a project as presented by its promotors.
* About the use of langages in this trade:
Mining, as part of the global economy, is nowadays mainly under the control of large English speaking mining houses (Canadian, American, English, South-African, Australian), with some noticeable exceptions, i.e. one or the other Chinese or Brazilian company.
The subcontractors of reference, consultancy firms and suppliers of this industry work mainly (if not exclusively) in English, which is therefore by the facts the langage of the trade.
In this course notes, words and expressions in English will be generally written in italics. A French-English lexicon will be given at the end of the course. Mastering it is part of the elements to acquire.
French speaking professionals who master the English langage have an asset to play with : these big English speaking mining houses are looking for high level professionals able to work in both languages, mainly for the French speaking African countries, but also for France (where mining exploration has recently restarted), and obviously, for Quebec, the French speaking mining province of Canada.
To note: knowledge of the Spanish langage opens the door to Latin America, another mining continent.
Another habit of the trade, common to numerous other economic sectors, is to refer continuously to acronysms, which have to be understood without hesitation in conversation or when reading documents. The course mentions and explains a large number of these acronyms specific to the mining environment.
Prerequisite knowledge and skills
Mineral resources geology
Mineralurgy (a summary on the processes will be given early in the course (but not part of the course), intended mainly to the students in the geological sciences master)
Planned learning activities and teaching methods
Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning)
Face to face (ex cathaedra course)
Presentations by the students
Recommended or required readings
This course was presented for the first time under its present form for the academic year 2015-2016 . The course notes correspond to the presentations given during the lectures (PowerPoint or PDF) and are presently under revision. They will be available on line in due time.
Some other documents intended to complement the course or to address recent news about the mining industry will be transmitted by e-mail.
Assessment methods and criteria
50 % : oral exam, two main questions
20 % : written test on the specific mining vocabulary and acronyms (in French and in English) - test organised together with the oral exam
30 % : two presentations per student within the practical session marks (one topic on a mining commodity + a relevant example of operation; one general topic linked to the mining industry; topics to choose on two different lists which will be submitted early in the course)
Face-to-face course organised on Friday afternoon during the second quadrimester. Two hours ex cathaedra, followed by a practical session (additionnal topics, or presentation by the students).
Field visits to be organised early in the course (dates).