Marshall Miller & Associates - Glossary – Mining Defined

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Glossary – Mining Defined

There are thousands of technical terms, tools, processes, products, services and job descriptions that mining companies use in the course of their work. MM&A created this brief glossary to define the most commonly used words, terms and job descriptions used in our business and in the mining industry. This affords readers a chance to understand better the science of mining, the types of professionals who work in this field and the range of services MM&A offers to firms, mine owners, government agencies, bankers, investors and other parties with interest in mining operations.

Competent/Qualified Person:

A member of a recognized professional organization (SME, AIME, etc), with a minimum of 5 years of experience in the relative field, who vouches for the accurateness and completeness of technical reports (specifically with regards to JORC-compliant & NI 43-101 compliant reserve reporting).


The presence of a mineral, fossil fuel or another valuable resource in a geological formation is described as a “deposit.” A deposit is further defined as the natural occurrence of a useful mineral, ore or energy source in sufficient extent and degree of concentration as to invite exploitation.

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):

An EIS is a document prepared to describe the effects of a proposed activity on the environment. "Environment," in this case, is defined as the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment.

Environmental Reclamation (ER):

With respect to mining, ER is the act of restoring land to its original condition at after a deposit has been mined. Reclamation operations are usually underway as soon as a resource is extracted from a mine site and often occurs simultaneously with resource extraction. The process includes restoring the land to its approximate original appearance by restoring topsoil and planting native grasses and ground covers or perhaps, sustainable development for other desired uses.

Geological Consulting:

At MM&A, we assign teams of geological experts from various fields such as coal geology or hydrogeology to assess the field conditions of a proposed or active mining site on a project-to-project basis. Geological consultants need at least a bachelor's degree in geology. The vast majority of geoscientists employed by MM&A have advanced degrees from well-known universities.


One who studies the structure, and history of the earth's crust, conducting research into the formation and dissolution of rock layers, analyzing fossil and mineral content of layers, and endeavoring to identify historical sequence of development by relating certain characteristics to known geological influences.


In simple terms, geology is the study of the earth. Geology involves studying the materials that makeup the features, and structures found on Earth as well as the processes that act upon them. Mining geology focuses on the exploration and retrieval of mineral resources and fossil fuels, the effect of mining operations on aquifers, environmental reclamation and related topics.

Geophysical Logging:

The US Geological Survey (USGS) defines “geophysical logging” as a procedure to collect and transmit specific information about the geologic formations penetrated by a well. This is done by raising and lowering probes that contain watertight instruments in the well. The data collected is stored and can be used to determine lithologies, fracture distribution, vertical borehole flow, and water-yielding capabilities and more.

Hydrology and Hydrologist

At its’ core, "hydrology" is the study of surface water including oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. Accredited professionals or experts who engage in this field of study or work activity are known as “hydrologists."

Hydrogeology and Hydrogeologist:

While closely linked to hydrology, hydrogeology is the study of underground water in geological formations. This includes the study of groundwater, water tables, water saturation in various soil types (rock, sand, clay, loam, etc.), runoff, water traveling through or trapped in fissures and cracks that exist in rock formations and the effects of water, ice and water vapor in various mining environments and conditions. MM&A employs hydrogeologists who specialize in the impacts of mining on groundwater and surface water.

Mining Engineer:

A person qualified by education, training, and experience in mining engineering. A trained engineer possesses the scientific knowledge, economic understanding, and art of mineral location, extraction, concentration, and sale of recovered reserves to make a mine profitable.

Mine Engineering:

A branch of engineering concerned primarily with the location and evaluation of mineral deposits, the survey of mining areas, the layout and equipment of mines, and the supervision of mining operations. Mine engineering is associated with other disciplines, such as geology, mineral processing, metallurgy, geotechnical engineering, and surveying.


A permit is a license granted by a government agency that allows an entity to undertake a regulated activity. Permitting is also an ongoing process. A mining operation may need to amend, update or obtain new permits if mining conditions change in a material way.

Regulatory Compliance:

Once a government grants a permit, the entity must comply with its terms, conditions, and limitations. Government entities enforce compliance of a permitted activity through inspections and assessments. Remaining in compliance may also be affected by changes in the law, the promulgation of new or amended regulations or other reason of public interest.

Reserve Exploration, Discovery, Estimation and Analysis:

These terms collectively refer to the process used by mining companies to search for, discover, estimate and analyze the presence of valuable minerals, fossil fuels, strategic metal, precious and semi-precious stone and other deposits to access the viability and potential profitability of a mining opportunity. These processes are important to individuals and companies making investment and banking decisions pertaining to mining.

About the Author

Marshall Miller & Associates performs a wide range of geological, environmental, hydrogeological and mining engineering services. MM&A’s seasoned staff of engineering personnel delivers design solutions for a variety of projects and industry-specific applications.