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The Colorado School of Mines is joining forces with Colorado State University and the University of Arizona to develop a centre of excellence dedicated to mine tailings research and education.

Officials from the education institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the inter-university initiative, which will focus on the education of engineers to responsibly and sustainably manage mine tailings and the advancement of best practices in tailings management through applied science and engineering research.

“The mining industry is extremely concerned about the management of tailings, especially as companies increasingly rely on large-scale extraction of ever-lower grade ore deposits, a process that yields large volumes of waste materials,” says Colorado School of Mines professor Priscilla Nelson, who adds that the center of excellence “will serve as a centre for coordination for all the international efforts that are going on in tailings management”.

Among the centre’s priorities are to offer online and in-person short courses and workshops in tailings management for current mining professionals and engineers, as well as inter-university certificates in relevant areas of tailings and waste management, while also serving as a nexus for the dissemination of best practices and industry benchmarks.

The centre will also provide venues for graduate education focused on mine waste to support the development of uniquely qualified tailings engineers, and allow for fundamental and near-term research guided by industry needs to be conducted.