2023-2024 / GEOL0237-2

Exploitation of mineral deposits


25h Th, 15h Pr, 2d FW

Number of credits

 Master of Science (MSc) in Geological and Mining Engineering, professional focus in geometallurgy (EMERALD) (Erasmus mundus)5 crédits 
 Master of Science (MSc) in Geological and Mining Engineering5 crédits 
 Master of Science (MSc) in Geological and Mining Engineering (joint-degree programme with the "Université polytechnique de Madrid")5 crédits 
 Master in geology (120 ECTS)5 crédits 


Nicolas Vasbinder

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

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). It is teached in English.
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
  • one critical 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.


 * The course is teached in English.

For the French speaking students, 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.

The course notes are completed by English/French lexicons devoted to the vocabulary and the acronyms used frequently in the mining trade. Mastering the vocabulary and the acronyms is is part of the elements to acquire by the students.

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.

This course contributes to the learning outcomes I.1, I.2, I.3, II.1, II.2, III.2, III.3, IV.3, IV.4, IV.5, V.1, VI.1, VI.2, VI.4, VII.1, VII.2, VII.3, VII.4, VII.5, VII.6 of the MSc in geological and mining engineering.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

General geology
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, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Face to face (ex cathaedra course)
Field visits

Recommended or required readings

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.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Written work / report

Additional information:

50 % : written test on the specific concepts & exercices
50 % : study project based on an existing mining case

Work placement(s)

Not planned

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

Face-to-face course organised on Wednesday afternoon during the first 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).


Nicolas Vasbinder, lecturer
Nadia Elgara, GEOMAC Department secretariat, Building B52
04 366 37 99

Association of one or more MOOCs