A mine planner is responsible for determining the best way for a mining company to extract a resource from out of the ground. These professionals analyze information about a mineral, oil, or gas deposit and the composition of the earth around it and figure out how the resource can be mined so that it can be brought to the surface with the least possible amount of effort and money. As a mine is put into place and resources are extracted, a mine planner may also be involved in synthesizing new information about the deposit with existing information to modify the mine plan as needed.
One of the main things the planner does is to recommend how a mining company should extract a resource from the ground. The most basic question that a mine planner must settle is what type of mine to construct. Some deposits of minerals or other resources are close enough to the surface that they can be reached by digging a surface mine, which is basically a large hole above them. Others may be deeper or under a layer of hard rock and will be better reached by a subterranean mine, which is a mine with shafts that allow people and equipment to work underground, closer to the resource. The type of resource being extracted, the layout of the area and environmental regulations all go into the process of deciding what type of mine to construct.
The mine planner also determines how big a mine should be, where tunnels should be drilled, and what type of extraction process will allow the mining company to collect the largest amount of the resource. This process may include determining the specifics of the surface or subterranean mine, such as whether it will be a strip mine or an open pit mine, in the case of surface mines, or a mine with horizontal, vertical, or diagonally positioned shafts in the case of subterranean mines. If the situation changes after the mine has been started, the planner will alter the plan as necessary.
Computer models and simulations may be used by a mine planner to help him or her make decisions about a future mine. Models allow the planner to create three-dimensional pictures of the mine. Simulations allow the planner to make predictions about the safety of the plan and the difficulty of the project. This helps prevent costly real-world accidents from occurring.