• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 10:15 AM


BUSS, Alan R., Elementary and Early Childhood Education, University of Wyoming, 1000 E. University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071 and MYERS, James D., Geology & Geophysics, Univeristy of Wyoming, Department 3006, 1000 E. University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071,

Case studies are the laboratory centerpiece of several UW Earth science courses. Unlike most cases, these place students in professional roles in organizations dealing with resource issues where they perform typical tasks. For relevancy and immediacy, cases are set in different social contexts. Whereas background content is provided via the Web, activities are done on paper. Cases consist of three modules completed in successive lab sessions. One case focuses on gold mining in South Africa and its economic, political and social ramifications, i.e. the grand challenge of resource availability.

geology: Student groups, representing gold mining companies, are given company directives, topographic maps and sample analysis reporting forms. The directives instruct them to assess their map regions for gold deposits. Groups report on the results of a geochemical survey they conducted to identify potential gold deposits.

economics: Groups are given new company directives and geologic maps of the area previously studied. They perform an economic assessment of the gold deposit(s) in their area and recommend whether the company should proceed to production. Groups design and implement an exploratory drilling program, i.e. select drilling sites, methods and depth, and give the map to their instructor for coring. They are provided corresponding cores which they use to select stratigraphic intervals for geochemical analysis. Using deposit grade, volume and recovery factor, students calculate the market value of the deposit’s recoverable gold. Comparing this value to projected production costs, groups recommend whether their company should proceed to production.

social: Groups are assigned new unique roles, e.g. mining company, miner’s union, worker’s rights NGO, to investigate the social consequences of mining, i.e., the role of mining technology on safety, job security and environmental impact.. In this scenario, the mining company is considering new technologies to offset the increasing cost of deeper mining. Based on their perspective, groups identify externalized costs; evaluate potential impacts on their group and establish a starting position for negotiations between stakeholders. The various groups then negotiate an agreement about which technology(ies) to adopt.

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