Arizona gets a new mining research insititute. We have been reading about this for the past few days hoping to find out what they will research. Here is one brief description:
Mary Poulton, lead researcher at the institute, has identified a wide range of projects to tackle, from water use to simulators for safety training to the feasibility of using mining sites for alternative-energy projects.
And here is great detail:
- Developing new methods to minimize the impact mining has on the environment. Projects include substituting low-quality water for high-quality fresh water and decreasing energy consumption in mining operations.
- Improving mine safety. UA faculty, in collaboration with industry partners, are developing the San Xavier mining laboratory into one of the world’s premier test sites for safer underground mining technologies. These include finding ways to more precisely track miners and equipment working underground. Dr. Jeff Burgess, Division Director of Community Environment and Policy and co-investigator for this new SFAz project, will be studying the heath effects of particulates in exhaust from bio-diesel and synthetic diesel as mining companies look to “greener” energy sources and working to identify and promote safer mine safety practices. In addition, investigators from Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University will characterize dust exposure in communities near mines.
- Basic research toward greater understanding of southwestern geology, which is needed to understand where minerals are located at depth. “There is potential for significant new mineral resources to be found in existing mining districts within the state that can continue to economically benefit the state for a long time,” according to co-investigator and UA Professor of Geosciences, Mark D. Barton. New, exotic elements as well as copper and other traditional elements will be needed by industry developing new alternative energy sources, for example, Barton added. “We’ll run into issues of supply and conflicts with other land use needs, unless we better understand where and how mineral resources have formed and are distributed in Arizona and around the world. “
We wish them all good fortune, insightful research, and intellectual advances.