World Mining Competition testing the mettle of students in Saskatoon

Mining engineer Sydney Miller had never met the students on her four-person team before the World Mining Competition started in Saskatoon on Friday.

60 students given 36 hours to develop complex mining strategy in contest created by U of S

The World Mining Competition tests the skills of geology, engineering and business students by giving them 36 hours to come up with a complex mining strategy based on a case study. (Submitted by the World Mining Competition)

Mining engineer Sydney Miller had never met the students on her four-person team before the World Mining Competition started in Saskatoon on Friday.

Within 36 hours, the group had developed a complex mining strategy in response to a detailed question in a 26-page case study.

On Sunday, the multi-disciplinary teams of business, engineering and geology students from around the world each got the chance to present those strategies to a panel of judges.

Speaking shortly after her team's presentation in the preliminary round, Miller said it had been a sleep-depriving and challenging weekend so far.

Oliver Horner (Geology, University of Saskatchewan), Joseph Capito (Management, University of Alberta), Sydney Miller (Mining engineering, Dalhousie University) and Dwight Mighton (University of Lethbridge) make up Team Canada at the competition. (Submitted by the World Mining Competition)

"We had to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses and set up the case accordingly to where we thrive," she said.

"So it was challenging but it was a really good learning opportunity."

In developing the competition, organizers strive to challenge the student's abilities to be flexible, work as a team and take advantage of their diverse skills.

Competition created and run by U of S students 

The University of Saskatchewan students that created the competition in 2012 also wanted to highlight the province's mining sector by attracting students from other regions.

It started as an event for western Canadian schools but has grown to attract student teams from countries including India, Germany and Chile. 

Miller, who is a student at Dalhousie University, is part of a multi-university team created to represent Canada at the competition.

Having never visited Saskatchewan, she said the competition had opened her eyes to different types of mining that are not a major part of her studies.  

World Mining Competition entrant and Dalhousie University student Sydney Miller said spending time in Saskatchewan has given her a better understand of potash mining and the provincial economy. (David Shield/CBC News)

Potash promotion

"Typically in undergrads we like to focus on hard rocks and soft rocks, we don't really get to see potash and agrium," said Miller. 

"We don't really specialize in it so it's very exciting to step into petroleum a little bit, learn about the agrium and learn about, kind of, the way that the regional economy works."

The competition prides itself on the quality of the case studies it presents to students.

Vice-president of competition relations Tanner Assie said the case studies were thoroughly researched and written to reflect real-world locations and conditions.

He said the scenarios were always based around natural resources or exploration, and sometimes included components on mergers or acquisitions.

Challenging students

"Mining is such a highly multi-disciplinary industry," said Assie.

"To have a competition like this to test the skills of the delegates, it really is a testament to just multi-disciplinary learning in general and being able to be flexible and diverse."

Assie said the weekend was also a chance for students to network with the major Saskatchewan mining companies sponsoring the competition.

"It's really just showing them how great our mining sector is here, there are all sorts of opportunities," he said.

"We're a small town, or a small province you might say, but essentially when you look at our mining sector it's massive and it's great to see so many delegates engaging with that."

The competition continues Sunday and winners will be announced at a gala dinner at TCU Place Sunday night.