Mining for green technology | Local News | bhpioneer.com – Black Hills Pioneer

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A steady rain this evening. Showers continuing overnight. Low 39F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%..
A steady rain this evening. Showers continuing overnight. Low 39F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%.
Updated: November 29, 2021 @ 5:32 pm
A steady rain this evening. Showers continuing overnight. Low 39F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%..
A steady rain this evening. Showers continuing overnight. Low 39F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%.
Updated: November 29, 2021 @ 5:32 pm
Students at South Dakota Mines learn about mine surveying in class. Courtesy photo
Students at South Dakota Mines learn about mine surveying in class. Courtesy photo

Students at South Dakota Mines learn about mine surveying in class. Courtesy photo
Students at South Dakota Mines learn about mine surveying in class. Courtesy photo
RAPID CITY — Increasing efficiency in mining while reducing its environmental impact are just a few benefits of the new Mining Hub at South Dakota Mines.
“The Mining Hub is a vision of multiple companies pooling their resources to work on problems that they agree are important to all of them, that we would try to solve here at Mines in a research or technology development framework,” said Dr. Robert Hall, head of the university’s Department of Mining Engineering and Management.
In its early stages of development, Hall said he is looking for regional, state and international companies to sign on for the hub. Some of those local companies may include Dakota Territory Resources, Coeur-Wharf, and Pete Lien & Sons. Other companies may include Nevada Gold, metallurgical, coal and copper mining companies, Tech Resources in Canada, and more. Hall is even looking to Amazon as a partner to provide hosting services and data warehousing.
The goal of the hub is for students and faculty at Mines to work with companies on researching and developing technology and methods to improve how we recover resources from the earth.
First, we have to educate society that mining is much better than everyone thinks it is,” Hall said. “It is needed for the green economy, in addition to the things we already have in our life. We want to make sure that, for example, if someone wanted to start a new mine here in the Black Hills that with the technology that we develop we should be able to make sure that mine is one of the best mines in the world, in terms of safety and environmental compliance and efficiency. It’s a unique opportunity to have this coming together in South Dakota and Rapid City, where we’re creating relationships to get access to infrastructure to do the research and the product development. For example, we might be building a mine and design that mine from the start, with the idea that we will use this technology from the get-go. A lot of companies are coming in after the fact with an existing operation, and they’re going ‘we’d like to put in this technology or that technology.’ That’s still good, but it doesn’t reap as many benefits as if you start with a green field site.”
Some equipment is already available to the industry, including autonomous haul trucks and bulldozers. Because they can operate more consistently than human operated equipment, the autonomous vehicles increase productivity and, in some cases, reduce fuel consumption.
Additionally, Hall said the Mining Hub will be working to assist in the development of electric operated equipment to further decrease the environmental impact of mines.
“Those will make the industry greener,” Hall said. “We need to make sure we get the ability to recover some of these critical minerals that are needed for electric cars and the green economy. A lot of people don’t realize that the green economy needs mining to be successful. To get where the world wants to go, we need mining to do it.”
Development of the Mining Hub partners university faculty and students with member company engineers and researchers to capitalize on opportunities. It helps pair students with industrial companies for internships and research opportunities. Additionally, the Mining Hub and its potential impact was a key part of the story that led to receiving $19 million in state dollars to build an estimated $34 million building to house its Geology and Geological Engineering, the Mining Engineering and Management, and the Materials and Metallurgical Engineering departments. The building will provide state of the art facilities for Mines, marking the university as one of only five in the country that has all three departments in campus.
Now, Hall said, more students than ever spend their summers or their part-time jobs working as interns in the mining and construction industry across the Black Hills and Wyoming, in the fields they are studying.
“It’s very difficult for students to get part-time engineering work through the school year,” Hall said. “They can work as a waitress, at a bakery or at a grocery store. But to actually get engineering work while they’re in classes is pretty much impossible. The Mining Hub creates the opportunity for part time engineering work while in school. The ability to get the experience in Rapid City without leaving South Dakota will be key to helping us grow the enrollment in our programs.
“It’s all coming together in a perfect storm of momentum,” he continued. “The Mining Hub and the new building are positioning us to do great things to support the industry and the green economy.”
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