Students Chris Carlson, Jessica Pitman, Charlotte Bryant, Oakley Turner. Photo by Artur Tixiliski.

Students in training for 2012 International Mining Games

Students from the University of Exeter’s Camborne School of Mines (CSM) are kick-starting an unusual training regime this January.

While many of us are trying to get into shape by sweating it out in the gym or pounding the pavements, they are heaving mine wagons, laying rail tracks and chiselling through granite.

This is all preparation for the International Mining Games, which will be hosted by CSM at King Edward Mine, near Camborne from 29 March to 1 April 2012. Now in its 34th year, this is the first time the competition will be held outside the US or Australia. 40 teams from all over the world will compete in physical challenges based on traditional mining techniques, many of which were originally developed in Cornwall in the 17 and 1800s. The event will be free and open to spectators.

The primary aim of the competition is to celebrate traditional mining techniques, many of which were originally developed in Cornwall. Events such as ‘jackleg drilling’, ‘mucking’ and ‘track stand’ test the competitors’ physical strength, speed and endurance, while challenges like surveying depend more on knowledge and quick thinking. All rely on preparation and excellent teamwork. CSM is entering three teams and the students have put together a busy training schedule, around their studies.

CSM student Oakley Turner is leading on the organisation of the games. He said: “The skills required for these traditional techniques are now extremely rare, but an understanding of them is still vital to the mining industry. CSM students are among the few people with this expertise, which puts our graduates in very high demand among employers.

“Hosting the International Mining Games is a wonderful way for us to celebrate our skills and bring a really exciting event to Cornwall. It will be a great opportunity for local people to see these techniques being carried out in the same part of the world as they were originally developed.”

The International Mining Games started in 1978 in honour of the 91 miners who died in the Sunshine Mine disaster, USA in 1972, as well as miners that have since died in the line of duty. Since then, it has grown and evolved and also provides a talent scouting opportunity for mining companies and companies in related sectors, as well as bringing together mining students from all over the world.

Head of Camborne School of Mines Professor Frances Wall said: “We are very proud that our students are bringing this prestigious competition to Cornwall. Representatives from some of the world’s biggest mining companies will be attending, so this will be an excellent opportunity for our students to network and potentially secure future employment.

“It will also be great fun for our students and for local people, who we hope will come to cheer along the CSM teams.”

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said, “We are standing on the edge of new technologies for the mining industry emerging from Cornwall. These games are an important part of understanding 'in the flesh' the skills needed to face the challenges underground. In time this understanding will be engineered into remote digital management of mines around the world.”

King Edward Mine, known to generations of students as KEM, was for over a century CSM’s field station for practical mining and surveying. Now open as a museum, the mine is owned by Cornwall Council and is managed by a team of volunteers who started restoration work on the site 25 years ago.

Mining Engineer Tony Brooks, former CSM student and director of the museum, said: “We are delighted to be able to help host the Mining Games at KEM. There could be nowhere more appropriate for this event. This will be good for CSM, Camborne and Cornwall.”

Part of the University of Exeter, Camborne School of Mines is based on the Cornwall campuses, which is shared and jointly managed by the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth.

Date: 20 January 2012