Learning Cutting Edge Mining Technology At 85Th Annual SME Conference

By KBJR News 1

April 17, 2012 Updated Apr 17, 2012 at 6:14 PM CDT

Duluth, MN - (Northland's NewsCenter) - While across the country many industries tanked during the recession, the Minnesota mining industry boomed.

That, along with the opportunity to learn about the latest in cutting edge technology, brought about the largest Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration conference ever held at the DECC in Duluth.

"Mining is a very, very important activity nationally, and it occurs in nearly every county in the United States," says President of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, Drew Meyer.

It also is one of the only industries that actually flourished and increased production during the recession.

"Employment has been growing in the mining industry...more jobs," Meyer says.

But many in the industry's workforce are reaching the retirement age... creating a significant problem for the mining industry.

"Because they are retiring, more than 52-percent of the workforce will need to be replaced by 2029. And that is under some very, very liberal types of assumptions...it actually could be as high as 75-percent," says Meyer.

Which is why the SME conferences are so important...teaching the younger generation the tricks of the trade.

"We're bringing in a lot of engineers from all over the country to work in our mines and employees from all over Minnesota to work in our mines and we want to educate those so we have the best operations we possibly can and be successful in the future and this conference is a key part of that," Area Manager for the Hibbing Mining Taconite Company, Jack Croswell.

Mining experts got to learn the latest about the ever growing Northland mining industry, including new mining techniques, technology, and environmental issues set to impact the future of mining in Minnesota.

"We have a lot of environmental sessions that we learn from, new products, so this is a very, very good time to learn about the best way of doing mining," says CEO & President of Polymet Mining & SME Chair, Joe Scipioni.

Officials say due to the increase in mining in recent years, there were at least 25 more vendors taking part in the Trade Show...and more people registered for this year's event.

Mining Officials say Iron Ore and Taconite sectors are expanding...and if Copper Nickel mines begin operations in Minnesota it would almost double the economic impact of mining.

Danyel Piecek