Focus Areas

A group of students on a geological field trip

Economic Geology

Mineral exploration is expensive and high-risk because of limited geologic knowledge and incomplete understanding of the ore-forming processes that control the distribution of minerals over geologic space and across hundreds of millions of years of geologic time. 

We conduct geochemical, geological and mineralogical studies on the origin, character and distribution of mineralizing systems. Our research focuses on the immediate needs and long-term interests of our collaborative partners – including mining and exploration companies as well as geological surveys.

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Leaf with water drop which enloses a tiny earth

Environment

Environmental issues associated with mineral extraction are becoming increasingly more important as mining operations are developed near population centers, fragile ecosystems and land that is culturally and economically important to indigenous communities.  

The University of Arizona Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining (CESM) addresses issues associated with the environmental sustainability of mining as well as the management of legacy sites that are frequently a source of contamination to neighboring communities and ecosystems.

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Georadar in the field

Geotechnical

Mining changes at a faster pace than ever before because of the increasing demand for the materials we produce, and the speed of technological advances, as well as the quickly evolving social priorities around safety, the environment, and social license to operate. 

The Geotechnical Center of Excellence works across the University of Arizona, the mining industry and other institutions to develop innovative geotechnical solutions, deliver graduates from multiple disciplines prepared to work in the geotechnical field and provide professional development training.

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Social License

Social License to Operate

Nearly every new mining project presents difficult choices between the local impact and the global demand for minerals. Mining engineers and exploration geologists often find themselves confronting tough ethical controversies.

The Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources helps prepare both students and professionals for the challenges of obtaining a social license to operate. We collaborate with the James E. Rogers College of Law on research and education related to mining, natural resource and environmental law, human rights and indigenous peoples interactions with extractive industries.

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Mineral processing facility

Mineral Processing

Valuable ore deposits are deeply buried and ores themselves are chemically and mineralogically complex, hard to find and harder still to process. How do we access the metals locked in these complicated, difficult ores?

The University of Arizona is home to the only Geometallurgy program in the USA. Faculty and students in the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering and the Department of Geosciences work together to develop research and teaching models that help geologists, engineers, and metallurgists work together across disciplinary barriers.

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Miners with respirators at the entry of a mineshaft

Health and Safety

Fourth Industrial Revolution advances like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation of mining and minerals processing present unprecedented opportunities to improve the health and safety of miners. 

The Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources Health and Safety team works with mining organizations worldwide, aiding them through research collaborations, technical problem solving and optimizing safety-focused training and leadership development  – achieving health and safety improvements through data-driven tools for students, organizations, and professional miners.

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