The Elements of Innovation Discovered

$19M for new SD School of Mines building

To yield new mining research and innovation in South Dakota Metal Tech News – April 7, 2021

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem recently approved $19 million in funding toward the construction of a new state-of-the-art Mineral Industries Building for the South Dakota School of Mines.

"Thanks to state leaders, we have an exciting opportunity in this new facility to produce a large return on investment for both the public and private sector," said South Dakota Mines President Jim Rankin. "This facility will yield new research and spin-off companies alongside a new crop of science and engineering innovators in multiple fields."

According to the School of Mines, the new facility is intended to advance the future of science, engineering, and technology while increasing environmental stewardship and to catalyze economic development in the region.

The new space will cater to developing technologies and opportunities with modern research labs and classrooms in the hopes to create new discoveries, spur creation of new high-tech companies, and help attract new employers to the area while educating the next generation of innovators.

It was South Dakota Senator David Johnson, who authored the bill and also served as the prime sponsor for the newest building. Being an alumnus of the School of Mines, the senator saw the modern facility as a vital step to turning the Rapid City area into a hub for fostering mining technologies.

"It was an honor to work on this legislation for my alma mater and for the state of South Dakota. Mines faculty and administrators were key on bringing me up to speed on the critical issues related to rare earth mining and its role in our own economic development and our nation's defense," said Johnson. "This building will also help us retain high quality scientists and engineers right here in South Dakota."

This development follows a recent sponsorship by Caterpillar Inc., the renowned heavy equipment company, to create and improve new technologies focused on sustainability while improving productivity and promoting economic development.

With this building, the private industry has begun lining up to capitalize on the potential of the future facility. Along with the original assistance from late last year, Caterpillar also sponsored the creation of a new laboratory at the School of Mines to continue supporting the development of future mining technology; this includes collaboration with Western Dakota Tech and local industry.

Furthermore, a new agreement with CAT also explores transforming part of SURF – former Homestake Mine turned Sanford Underground Research Facility – into an underground robotic mining test facility. This has the potential to open frontiers in safe and environmentally sound mining practices pioneered directly in the Black Hills of American soil.

Caterpillar is just one of the many supporters of this new facility, along with industry leaders from Nucor, a steel production company out of North Carolina. Many other companies as well committed millions of dollars to the project after recognizing the incredible potential that could come from collaborating with a mining test facility.

The new Mineral Industries Building on the School of Mines campus will not only provide these companies with a future highly skilled workforce but also an in to emerging technologies that could boost their bottom lines.

The new building is expected to open in late 2023 or early 2024.


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