The need for mineral extraction and production is an essential activity of any technically proficient society. As minerals are produced from within a naturally occurring environment, disturbance of the environment as a result of mineral production is a given. Modern mining engineers must therefore be concerned not only with the production and processing of mineral commodities, but also with the mitigation of damage or changes to an environment as a result of that production and processing.
The two primary types of mine are underground mines and open-pit mines. Minerals that exist mostly underground (eg. coal, gold etc.) are generally recovered using the underground mining process. Minerals like iron ore, limestone, manganese ore, etc. are mostly recovered from the surface downwards in opencast mining.
Engineering disciplines that are closely related to mining engineering are:
- Civil engineering;
- Environmental engineering;
- Geotechnical engineering;
- Hydraulic engineering; and
- Electrical engineering.
- Structural Engineering.
Specialized areas of mining engineering involve extraction of minerals from underwater mines, seawater, in-situ retorting of rock, and underground gasification.
Using explosives to break up a rock formation and aid in the collection of ore is called blasting. There are two types of blasting: high velocity and low velocity. High velocity blasting uses explosives that have high rates of reactions and produce high pressures (i.e. high explosives). Low velocity blasting is done with explosives which have a low rate of reaction and thus low pressures (i.e. low explosives). Blasting is done in selected regions where the ore is available. The size of the ore after blasting varies.
Mining operations start only after geological survey. A geological survey will develop a projection of the size and purity of an ore deposit. Based on these projections, more detailed studies may be ordered. This is known as detailed prospecting. One of the methods of prospecting is to extract drill cores from the area of the potential mine. The cross sections of these cores can be used to develop a three-dimensional projection of the mineral deposit.
- Definitions and references 
- SME - Society for Mining Metallurgy and Exploration 
- Website at the U.S. Department of Labor