They drilled, panned, sawed and mucked.
They did it all as part of the 35th annual International Intercollegiate Mining Games, held at the Colorado School of Mines, March 13-17.
A total of 16 schools from around the globe were represented over the weekend by teams of students competing in the male, female and coed categories.
The team from Murdoch University in Perth Australia went through 21 hours of air flight to attend.
“Our whole team loves it here, and wants to move,” Murdoch Co-Ed team captain Kylie Nettleton said.
The competition was the first time Murdoch had competed overseas. While Nettleton said her team enjoyed the competition, the social element was what they really came for.
“To get involved, meet the sponsors and to meet people who will be our future colleagues,” the metallurgy major said.
The hollering teammates, the ping of drill bits biting into stone and the staccato din of the hydraulic drill helped bring some community spectators, including Michael Morian, who rode his bike up to the school’s freshman lot, where the competition was held.
“It’s fun to come up here and see the kids working so hard. It’s fun to see them come from this far away, too,” said Morian as an English team assembled a section of ore cart track by hand.
The Mining Games celebrate historic mining practices, and help create a sense of community between mining students from around the world. The games were first held in 1978, in honor of the victims of the Sunshine Mine fire in northern Idaho.
Colorado School of Mines senior Wade Orourk said much of the international event was organized and funded through student effort.
“We raised almost a quart million dollars, and planned this for almost a year,” Orourk said. He added that once the events actually got underway, the CSM organizers all breathed a sigh of relief.
The Mining Games wasn’t all about competition though. Orourk said the DJ knew a song that inspires the Aussie men to moon the competition, and more than a few unlucky competitors were dunked in the cold, murky water of the gold panning troughs.