August 27, 2014 – We need more mining engineers! The Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration Inc. (SME) has submitted comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding its request for information about critical and strategic materials supply chains and their importance to American prosperity and national security. SME’s comments focused on the role of maintaining an adequate pipeline of qualified graduates and teachers at U.S. mining schools in order to provide the necessary technical skills needed to maintain the supply chain of critical and strategic minerals.
“Workforce availability has become a significant problem for the domestic mining industry,” said SME Executive Director David L. Kanagy. “By 2029, more than half of the current workforce will be retired, and the number of qualified science and engineering professionals graduating from U.S. schools will not meet the capacity required to fill these vacancies.”
Mining and geological engineering, mineral processing, extractive metallurgy and applied geology and geophysics programs at our universities are national assets that are critical to maintain and encourage the growth of the U.S. energy and minerals workforce. These programs suffer from dwindling federal reinvestment and R&D funding. Without an adequate pipeline of qualified graduates and faculty at U.S. universities, the nation is at a distinct competitive disadvantage in the production of basic raw materials and energy. SME’s position is reflected in the March 2013 SME technical briefing paper, “Federal Support for U.S. Mining Schools.”