By Emily Dieckman, College of Engineering

June 11, 2021

Students in a Mine Planning Software class at the University of Arizona.

As the world’s population works to reduce carbon emissions, the need for mined resources like copper increases, with the World Bank estimating that demand for copper could increase by 200% by 2050. Arizona, which produces 74% of the country’s copper and is the sixth largest copper producer in the world, plays a key role in establishing a more sustainable future, and a well-prepared workforce is critical to achieve that.

The Arizona Board of Regents today approved the establishment of a School of Mining and Mineral Resources at the University of Arizona. The school aims to make the University of Arizona the premier institution for mineral resources and mining redesign for the 21st century.

The school is co-located within the College of Engineering and the College of Science and will provide undergraduate, graduate and professional education in areas such as data science, economics, social sciences, public health and law with participation from the Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.

“For the first time in the history of mining around the world, our new school will take a holistic approach to mineral resource management,” said Moe Momayez, interim department head and David and Edith Lowell Chair in the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering. “The Department of Mining and Geological Engineering will play a key role in this, as it has led the field for 135 years, and will continue to train the next generations of mining engineers from all corners of the globe.”

The school’s offerings will include input from industry

Natural resources make up everything from our cell phones and cars to infrastructures for sustainable energy generation such as solar panels and wind turbines. The new school offers an interdisciplinary minor as well as bachelor and master degrees in areas such as “Safety and Health” and “Analytics, AI and Automation”.

“I always like to tell people that if you want to make a big difference in this world, engineering is the place to go,” said David W. Hahn, Craig M. Berge Dean of the College of Engineering. “And mining is one of the areas in which the creative problem-solving skills and technical know-how of engineers are becoming increasingly important. By working with other campus units and seeking input from industry, we are building a school where our students will build the future. “

A nationwide search for the headmaster who will report to the deans of the engineering and natural science faculties is expected shortly. The school will offer introductory and interdisciplinary courses that complement the existing curriculum of the two colleges and include courses requested by industry and government agencies.

The school will serve more than just students in related fields. For example, a new induction course for students across campus – 67% of whom say they know little to nothing about mining – will address the need for natural resources and the technical, social, economic and environmental issues related to their acquisition, use and contextualize reuse. The course will examine the impact of developments such as digitization and low carbon technologies, as well as key issues such as community and environmental health.

Change of the landscape in industry and science

The school management team organizes a technical advisory board made up of representatives from industry, other universities, government agencies and non-governmental organizations, as well as an advisory board made up of students studying science and engineering.

“We look forward to the cross-college collaboration,” said Carmala Garzione, Dean of the University of Natural Sciences. “A number of departments in the College of Science work with the school to offer our students unique academic and professional opportunities. We expect this new school to become a hub of activities aimed at more sustainable acquisition of minerals that are critical to cleansing “and more efficient energy practices.”

The founding of the school is largely supported by a donation of US $ 2 million and a challenge grant of US $ 2.5 million from the Lundin family. The family runs the Lundin Group, consisting of 14 listed companies in the raw materials sector that are active in more than 25 countries.

“This is a significant milestone for the extractive industry,” said Jack Lundin, president and CEO of Bluestone Resources Inc., who is also an alumnus of the College of Engineering and a board member of the Lowell Institute. “Now, more than ever, we need a university education program on mining and natural resources that focuses on environmental, social and governance issues. The new school means the University of Arizona will lead the way in this absolutely necessary approach “to the future of mining.”

The University of Arizona has a long history of excellence in this field. In the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject, the University of Arizona was ranked third nationwide in mineral and mining engineering programs, and the latest US News & World Report Best Graduate Schools ranked the university’s earth sciences graduate program in third place nationwide the geology graduate programs.

“The School of Mining and Mineral Resources will provide a new approach to addressing all of the challenges of the global increase in mineral resource use,” said Mary Poulton, Co-director of the Lowell Institute, along with Mark Barton. “The University of Arizona, with its unique location and long history of interdisciplinarity, is the best place to take this approach forward.”

Barton, who is also a professor of geology and geochemistry, confirmed that both the time and location are right for school.

“By catalyzing the unique breadth and strength of the University of Arizona, the new school can transform approaches to the sustainable use of earth materials,” he said. “Working with communities and partners, we can develop the people and innovative best practices that are required for the responsible production and sustainable reuse of natural resources.”

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