With a thriving mining industry overlooking the extraction and processing of various metals, metallurgists in Australia are in demand.

A metallurgist will examine metals such as steel, iron, aluminium, copper and nickel, along with their use in the production of materials and end-products. They will be involved at various stages of development, from design and manufacturing to production management, quality assurance, and R&D.

Metallurgists in Australia may also be responsible for developing new processes or overseeing traditional manufacturing, working alongside a range of teams such as engineers, business professionals and scientists.

Specialist areas of metallurgy

Typically, there are three specialist areas of metallurgy; chemical, physical and processing.

A chemical metallurgist is involved in the extraction of metal from its ore, as well as the study of corrosion and metal fatigue. They will play a key role in the design of processes to separate metals, as well as developing methods to make metals stronger and/or more adaptable.

A physical metallurgist monitors the behaviour of metals under stress and the effects of changes in temperature. They may be involved in the development of products and optimising manufacturing, as well as investigating metallurgical failures.

A process metallurgist is responsible for shaping and joining metals, as well as choosing the most suitable metal for the application. They will be experts in processes such as casting, forging, rolling, welding and smoldering.

Regardless of specialist areas, a metallurgist will be proficient in interpreting design drawings, monitoring quality standards, analysis using advanced computer software, researching and developing processing equipment, and writing reports to support customer liaisons.

Becoming a metallurgist in Australia

Typically, a degree in a relevant field such as chemical engineering, materials science, metallurgy or physics is required. Additionally, a related Masters or PhD may be desired for advanced roles such as research positions.

Useful skills in a career in metallurgy include good communication and presentations skills, business awareness, technical problem solving, leadership, numeracy skills and attention to detail.

Work experience and practical knowledge will also be an advantage. In Australia, AusIMM (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy) represents a global community of professionals and students in the mining industry and offers experience and assistance to those looking for a career in metallurgy. Additionally, most organisations run events and conferences that offer training and membership benefits to students, including networking opportunities.

Career opportunities as a metallurgist in Australia can be found at a variety of organisations that are involved in metal production and processing, including steel manufacturing, mining and metal refining, copper product manufacturing, precious metals specialists, energy suppliers, and producers of non-ferrous metals.

As experts in measurement technology for production processes, VEGA’s process instrumentation is developed in collaboration with metallurgists in order to find the most suitable measurement solution for applications involving metal extraction and processing.