Metallurgist

South Africa possesses large reserves of chromium, iron, uranium, platinum, vanadium, titanium, lead, zinc, manganese and many other metals used in the production of goods. Most of these mineral reserves are found in ores that are complex in nature. To extract these useful metals from the ore, research is necessary to ensure efficient and sustainable processes of mineral extraction and production. Metallurgy involves the investigation, purification and production of mined metals.

Metallurgists research and design methods to separate metals from ore and process them into valuable products. They test ores to determine the best way to recover metals efficiently and effectively and oversee processes of extracting metals from ore. They also produce commercial metal products through casting, alloying, heat treating or welding refined metals, alloys and other materials, amongst others. Some might also focus on identifying changes in metal under particular conditions and investigate where and why metallurgical failure has occurred.

Metallurgists can work with mining engineers, geologists and other geophysical specialists around the mining of metals. They can work in a laboratory, metal treatment plant, refinery, mining sites or manufacturing production plants shaping metals to create new products.

Skills

Metallurgists require a thorough understanding of the physical and chemical properties of metals, compounds and alloys. They will further benefit from the:

  • Strong mathematical and engineering competence
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving ability
  • Critical thinking around design and processing techniques
  • Sound attention to detail

Tasks

Conduct research and investigate metal and alloy properties

Design processes and methods for metal extraction and alloying

Test and develop the manufacture and processing of metal products

Compile reports to advise on process performance and shortcomings

Studies

B.Eng. in Metallurgical Engineering at UP

B.Sc.Eng. in Metallurgical Engineering at Wits

B.Sc., B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc. in Chemistry at all universities

Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Metallurgical Engineering at TUT, UJ and VUT

Employers

Metal, iron and steel manufacturing companies.

Metal ore mining companies.

Research institutions.

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