The rising talents of modern mining will descend on Cornwall this week, for the 40th International Mining Games held at Camborne’s King Edward Mine.
The annual event, running from the 29th-31st March will see 39 teams tackle seven challenges, each developed to test group strength, accuracy and speed whilst performing traditional mining techniques.
As the UK’s last institution in mining education, Camborne School of Mines (CSM) will represent Great Britain in men’s, women’s and co-ed divisions, looking to better its 5th place overall finish achieved last year in Kentucky, USA.
Challenges will include Mucking, Handsteel, Swede Saw, Trackstand, Jack Leg, Surveying and Gold Panning, with the fastest teams collecting the most points.
Alex Perry, President of Camborne School of Mines Students and Chair of the organising committee, told Truthfal: “The Games have been happening for 40 years now, so we wanted to make it the best one we could.
“Our aim was to bring people together from Mining Schools around the world, and we have over 250 people from seven countries coming to take part in the competition. It’s the biggest games on record so far.”
For the first time, two women’s teams from CSM will also compete at the Games, reflecting the rising number of women forging careers in the mining and minerals industries.
“We’re always trying to promote women in mining,” said Perry. “Traditionally it has been a very male dominated industry, but we have more and more women entering the sector and this is definitely one way of proving things are going the right way.”
Jenna Roberts, an MSc Mining Engineering student and member of the CSM Cornish Maids team, told Truthfal: “This year is very different! Each event in the games requires different skills and roles. For example, I am one of the two drillers in my team. But in events such as the Hand Mucking, I am a screener.
“The opposition will be very strong this year and we are expecting to be put through our paces. However, we are not afraid of the uphill climb and will try our best!”
Started in 1978, the International Mining Games are a cultural celebration of traditional mining techniques, dedicated to the memory of all who lost their lives whilst working in the profession. The event is also an opportunity for the young modern miners to network and build international links with others entering the industry.
“We are all really looking forward to getting stuck in, competing and meeting new friends from around the world!” said Jenna, whose team, ‘The Cornish Maids’ will be competing against groups from the USA, Australia, Brazil and Europe.
Camborne in Cornwall is the cultural home of many hard rock techniques, pioneered within its copper and tin mines before being adopted worldwide. Those trained within its industrial mining centres took their expertise around the world, revolutionising engineering practices and mining technologies until copper prices dropped in the mid 1900’s.
“We have bragging rights,” Perry told Truthfal. “We say there’s a Cornish Miner down just about every mine in the world. I think the story is nearly almost true.”
Having hosted the Games in 2012, the Championship’s return to Cornwall holds specific significance to the teams from CSM, who have been training hard in preparation for the games’ high demands of accuracy and physical endurance.
CSM A-Team member and MSc Applied Geotechnics student, Sarah McAuley told Truthfal: “We usually train twice a week, but it has been more frequent in the past few weeks so that our team is polished and can perform to the best of our ability.
“As a team we’ll be focusing on communication. At the end of the day it is all in good fun, but we are a competitive bunch who want to do well in the ladies competition.”
The Games are notorious for their competitive atmosphere and Perry predicts a large turnout of supporters, “There’s a very healthy rivalry but everyone stands behind everyone,” he told Truthfal.
“We have high hopes that CSM will achieve a great result this weekend, we were Hand-Mucking champions for five consecutive years and we’ve held the best time in training so far, our teams will put up a good fight in all the events.”
With the support of key sponsors including Sandvik, Padley and Venables, Ballast Pheonix, the 2018 Games look set to be a celebration of international industry talent and Cornwall’s rich mining heritage.