Mineral processing operators use equipment to process mineral ores until the final form or a concentrate is produced. Commonly processed minerals include gold, silver, nickel and iron ore. Mineral-bearing ore is subjected to various processes to extract the minerals. The ore is first crushed, then processing equipment (such as screens, grinding mills, filters, flotation cells, tanks and conveyors) is used to extract concentrated minerals. At the end of the treatment process the minerals may be produced into their final form by smelting, or as a bulk concentrate in preparation for shipment from site.
Personal requirements for a Mineral Processing Operator
- Enjoy practical and manual activities
- Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
- Mechanical aptitude.
Duties & Tasks of a Mineral Processing Operator
Mineral processing operators may perform the following tasks:
- Assemble and dismantle equipment and fittings in ore-processing plants
- Operate ore-crushing and screening plants using manual and computer-based systems, conveyers, feeders, weight-meters, grinding mills, pumps, jigs, spirals and flotation cells
- Load, unload and store materials such as treatment chemicals and tools
- Mix ore-treating chemicals, catalysts and reagents
- Supply and control molten metal in furnaces
- Clear blockages in materials-handling and transporting equipment
- Clean, wash and maintain equipment, and remove spillages and rubbish
- Maintain auxiliary systems, such as drainage, fluid-pouring and conveyor-belt systems
- Take samples of materials for testing
- Use thickeners in the treatment processes, pump tailings and manage tailings dams and associated raw-water systems
- Monitor the operation of plant and equipment and ensure the safety of other workers.
Working conditions for a Mineral Processing Operator
Mineral processing operators can be involved in all aspects of mineral processing, including sampling and laboratory work. They often work in remote areas that are dusty, hot and noisy. Mineral processing operators work in teams, and shiftwork may be involved.