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WHAT does a day in the life of a metallurgical engineer entail?
A metallurgist carries out various duties including daily trending and tracking of unit performance, interpretation of the process related results; safety leadership in the form of safety audits and safety operating procedure revisions; ensures legal compliance to environmental, health and safety regulations and other legislation.
He also provides technical support to ensure optimisation and continuous improvement in the total metallurgical function of the production department.
Why did you decide on this career?
I was deeply passionate about studying further in chemistry and geography and this enhanced a dream I wanted to fulfil. Secondly, because most people never realise the major contribution it has to the metal industry in South Africa.
How did you get into this career?
I first read about it in the Anglo American career booklet while I was in Grade 11. I then studied at the School of Mines at University of Johannesburg.
What's challenging about the job?
Always being under pressure to produce the shareholder value while at the same time governing and growing the team to maintain effective compliance with occupational health and safety standards.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy all aspects of it, especially conducting investigations to improve performance of metallurgical equipment; investigating, planning and implementing improvement projects; managing smaller projects with regard to processes and technology equipment; supporting other development engineers in evaluation of new technology to improve process capabilities and product quality; and controlling and managing the process change.
What type of person will make a success of this position?
The ability to manage your own personal performance and interact effectively in a team; establish and measure goals and objectives for a team; display sound judgment on issues; adaptability and eagerness to learn; good people management and communication skills; high levels of confidence and goal and task-focused; good analytical skills combined with the ability to interpret results; good coaching and mentoring skills and being technically orientated.
What subjects do you need at high school to study towards this career?
Mathematics, physical science, English and geography.
What does one study at tertiary level?
A three-year national diploma at a university of technology or a four-year bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering at a university .
What are the growth prospects?
You may become a technical superintendent or plant manager depending on expertise on management of people and business processes.
What career opportunities are there?
You can work in a range of industrie s, the mining industry being just one. You would be employed in the operation and management of metallurgical plants, research laboratories, process engineering or as a technical sales representative.
What is the starting salary?
This depends entirely on experience, competence and the company's remuneration scales.