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Mucking it up, mining students compete in Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Mining students from across the world and 17 universities will visit Lexington this week as the UK Muckin’ Wildcats Mining Team hosts the International Intercollegiate Mining Competition from March 22-26.

Events will be held at a site in Georgetown, Kentucky, on the corner of Wells Avenue and Main Street.

“It is very exciting for the University of Kentucky to host the 39th Annual International Collegiate Mining Competition,” said Rick Honaker, chair and professor of the UK Department of Mining Engineering. “The event will provide an opportunity to introduce around 210 students from across the U.S. and five different countries to the UK mining program, university, and the Bluegrass area. This is the first time that we have hosted the event since its inception, and we look forward to providing a very positive and rewarding experience for all of the participants.”

Students are coming from Australia, Brazil, Ontario, the United Kingdom, and from states across the U.S. such as Arizona, Montana, and Colorado.

The event, also known as the Mucking Competition, began as a dedication to the victims of the 1972 Sunshine Mining Disaster in Idaho, which claimed the lives of 91 miners. It has since been an event dedicated to any miner who has lost his or her life at a mine site.

UK Muckin’ Wildcats Mining Team. Photo: University of Kentucky

The goal of the competition is to keep old mining techniques alive, as well as strengthening the camaraderie of mining students today. Students will compete in jackleg drilling, hand steel drilling, gold panning, swede sawing, hand mucking, track stand, and land surveying. Events are either judged by students’ performance or time of completion.

“Many of these students are granted opportunities to visit places and form connections that they otherwise may have never had, and this is something that I find truly special,” said Hunter Gillipsie, president of the mining team. “I personally had the opportunity to travel to Kalgoorlie, Australia, in 2015 for the mining competition, and it has since been one of the highlights of my life. Now with the University of Kentucky hosting, we hope to impose the same feeling to our visitors. Being able to share the Bluegrass State, with all its unique attributes, with our visitors is something special to me, the team, and the university.”

The women and co-ed competitions will be from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, March 24, and the men and alumni competitions will be held 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 25. An awards banquet will take place from 7-11 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the Grand Reserve in Lexington.

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