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New Mining Program Coming to UMD

Updated: 04/22/2014 4:45 PM
Created: 04/22/2014 4:19 PM WDIO.com

The annual SME mining conference opened up with some interesting statistics. Wells Fargo economist Dr. Eugenio Aleman said that 10,000 Americans a day are retiring. And that is affecting the mining industry.

Leaders acknowledge that they must face the looming retirements. There's also the problem of having enough educational programs for the new workers, and faculty to lead the programs.

However, UMD is now working on a mining specific area, called the Mineral Resources Center. "We're reaching out to industry stakeholders now, to find out what skills are needed," said Jim Miller, a geology professor at UMD and administrative director at the NRRI's Precambrian Research Center. "We've been working on this for about five years, and hope to have it launched soon."

He told us the goal is to graduate people who are fully versed in all aspects of mining, from exploration to reclamation. "UMD will have that reputation in the industry, that people who graduate from here will have a full understanding of the mining cycle, even if they specialize in certain areas."

Miller said they just hired an economic geologist, which was very difficult to do. "We did an international search, and could only find five qualified candidates," he added.

Finding qualified faculty to teach is a national problem, according to the SME National President, John Marsden. "We can do more to help fund support for PhDs, and support research, and work on the tenure process."

He added that it is a great time for young people looking to get into the industry. "People can work their way up fairly quickly." But he does see some gaps in what's open, and who is graduating.

At the conference, there's also several hundred booths of vendors who've set up at the trade show. 

One of them is the haul truck simulator, which is a tool to help the next generation of miner. It's owned by Cliffs Natural Resources, and used at their three mine sites. But Advance Minnesota has one at the Hibbing Community College, that can be used for specialized training.

The mining conference runs through Wednesday. 

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