Cassidy Hannon

Colorado School of Mines students take top spot at 2024 International Mining Games

Women's team places first in historic mining competition that honors Sunshine Mine Disaster of 1972
Group photo of winning Mines mining competition team

A team of Colorado School of Mines students won the women’s division of the 2024 International Mining Games hosted at Montana Technological University. 

The Mines team competed against collegiate squads from around the world, including Australia, Canada, U.K. and U.S., in several historic mining activities. The competition honors the Sunshine Mine Disaster of 1972, which claimed the lives of 91 miners in Idaho. 

“We are preserving history,” said Jennifer Kinch, a junior in mining engineering and vice president of the competition team at Mines. “And that feels great.” 

The annual competition consists of a total of seven historic mining practices. The activities include:  

  • Hand Steeling: Students are given two minutes to hand-pound a hole into a cement block using a sharp steel and a hammer.  
  • Swede sawing: All members of the team take turns sawing through a piece of 4x4 wood as fast as they can.  
  • Jackleg drilling: Two team members are each given three minutes to drill as deep as they can into a cement block with a jackleg drill.  
  • Gold Panning: The team uses traditional gold panning methods to find five pellets of gold as fast as they can.  
  • Track setting: Team members work together to build a rail track for an ore cart.  
  • Mucking: Members of the team must run an empty ore cart down and up a track and then muck two tons of “ore” into the cart before running it down and back again.  
  • Surveying: Two team members survey points using a one-minute engineer's transit and steel tape. 

At Mines, the team practices year-round for the competition every spring. Practices are usually three days a week for a total of seven hours around the students’ other extracurricular and academic obligations.  

“After sitting in school all day, you get to let off all your steam and clear your head at practice,” Kinch said. “And you get to do it with a close-knit group of friends.”  

Mines student competes at hand steel
Mines student Emilee Sloan competes during the Hand Steel event at the 2024 International Mining Games. 

The Mines team is growing, too. Several majors are represented on the competition team, which has expanded by roughly 30 percent in the last year. This is the first women’s team the school has had in four years.   

Kinch came to Mines to study chemical engineering but changed her major to mining engineering after joining the mining team her freshman year.  

“This team showed me how great a community mining is, especially here at Mines. The department is so inclusive,” Kinch said, “Even if students don’t major in mining, this team gives them the chance to learn, and pursue their interests in it.”   

Winning doesn’t hurt, either. In the March competition, Kinch and the women’s team took first overall, along with first in jack legging, second in mucking, hand steeling, and swede sawing, and third in both surveying and track set. Men's and co-ed teams also compete.

Fellow members of the women’s team were Bella Williams, Emilee Sloan, Taylor Henry, Chloe Locke, and Sasha Stephens. 

The Mining Competition Team will be at E-Days again this year to teach newcomers about these historic mining practices. For a chance to jackleg, gold pan, or swede saw, stop by the Q Lot for the Mining Competition on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Free Santiago’s breakfast burritos will be available, too, while supplies last.  

Mines team competes in the Mucking event
The Mines team works together to shovel two tons of “ore” into an ore cart during the Mucking event at the 2024 International Mining Games. 

Cassidy Hannon

Communications Intern
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.