Six Colorado School of Mines students will head to England over spring break to compete in the 40th International Mining Games.
The Camborne School of Mines is hosting the games at the King Edward Mine, welcoming teams from 40 mining schools from around the world to compete in seven events that showcase traditional mining methods.
The games were started in 1978 to commemorate the 1972 Sunshine Mine disaster in Idaho, which claimed the lives of 91 miners. Colorado School of Mines won the games' co-ed division in 2012 and its women's team claimed the crown in 2013, the same year that the intercollegiate competition was hosted at Mines.
Teams will face off in seven events: mucking, handsteel, swede saw, trackstand, jack leg, surveying and gold panning. This year, Mines is sending a co-ed team, which means that at least one female student will compete in each of the seven events.
Preparing for the games requires a significant amount of practice and hard work. The team practices several times a week on a course set up behind the Mines Geology Museum.
Although practice can be challenging, co-captain Colton Aldridge, a senior in petroleum engineering, said he thoroughly enjoys them. “We have all of the equipment and tools at our practice grounds,” he said. “We go through each of the events and make sure to have a bit of fun.”
For students, the games are a valuable way to recognize traditional mining practices and to acknowledge how far the industry has come.
“It’s good to see how miners used the tools and what they used to endure on a daily basis,” said co-captain Carson Eltz, a junior in mining engineering.
Eltz and Aldridge both enjoy the handsteeling event most since it does not require any running or shoveling. In handsteeling, teams compete to drill the deepest hole into a block of concrete using a ⅞-inch diameter steel of varying lengths. Each team member gets two minutes to drill, and at the end of ten minutes, the depth of the hole is measured.
Alex Murray, one of the team’s female members and a junior in mining engineering, prefers the gold panning event. The goal of gold panning is to locate five flattened ball bearings in a pan full of muck in the shortest amount of time. “It’s always a rush trying to find your five pellets,” she said. “It’s super competitive.”
Rounding out the Mines team are Stephen Simmons, Marie Hetherington and Roland Daniels. The 40th International Mining Games will be held March 29-31.