New mountain to move for UA mining students
This afternoon, one of the University of Arizona's central landmarks will be replaced.
The large mass of granite that rests between Old Main and the U of A Bookstore has seen its last engineering week after five years.
The rock is used in the annual drilling contest sponsored by the mining and geological engineering department.
"The old rock is all drilled out from previous competitions. There isn't room enough for any more damage," said Matt Sullivan, a mining engineering junior and coordinator of this year's contest.
The competition is 50 years old, and Sullivan said most rocks last four or five years.
The mining and geological engineering department holds the contest every spring to showcase its students' talents and get exposure for the department. However, participation is not limited to mining engineers.
"People who know about the contest think that it is only for us (mining students)," said Patrick Martinez, vice president of the UA's student chapter of the Society of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers. "Anyone can enter."
Still, without some sort of prior knowledge of the equipment, Martinez' brother Joseph Martinez, also a mining engineering major, said drilling the rock would be very difficult.
"They use a jack-leg drill, which is a pneumatic power drill," he said. "It's pretty heavy, about 70 pounds, so it needs to be operated by two people and supported by a hoist. In actual mining industry, it's used for drilling dynamite holes."
With the resources provided by the mining department, mining students say they are well-prepared to handle the equipment.
"The mining department has a great student research lab," Martinez said. "It's the only student mine in the country with a hoist, which is an elevator that goes between levels in the mine. Most of them are just one-level tunnels into the side of a mountain."
This year, students in the contest will be drilling a new rock donated by Phelps Dodge Sierrita, an Arizona-based mining company. The mining department has not yet set a date for the drilling contest, but Sullivan said it will likely be two weeks after spring break.
"Phelps Dodge has always been a supporter of the UA engineering program," he said. "They help us out whenever we need it."