Preparing the Unemployed for the Mining Sector: A TAACCCT Funded Project

Project Info

Lead Researcher(s)

Rajive Ganguli


Tathagata Ghosh (UAF)
Pete Traxler (UAS)
Bill Beiber (UA-MAPTS)
Kieth Swarner (UAF-CTC)
Denise Runge (UAA-PWSCC)

Project Team

Project Manager: 

Danielle Dewey (UAF)

Mining Mill Operations OE:

Academic Advisor and Instructor: Brian Ellingson (UAF-CTC)
Instructor: Dr. Aibyek Khamkash (UAF-Post Doc)
ELearning and Distance Education: Christian Bouffard (UAF)
Graphic Modeling and Curriculum Consultant: Don Bickely (PWSCC) 
Curriculum Consultant: Dennis Eastman (PWSCC)

Center for Mine Training and Mine Mechanic OE:

Director: Graham Neale (UAS-CMT)
Program Coordinator: Lara Davis (UAS-CMT)
Instructor: S. Kirk 'Ziggy' Zeigenfuss (UAS-CMT)

Underground and Surface Hard Skill Training:

Instructor: Daren Case (UA-MAPTS)
Instructor:  Mike Azzara (UA-MAPTS)
Instructor:  Boise Alexie (UA-MAPTS)
Program Specialist/Instructional Design: Rene Azzara (UA-MAPTS)
Program Coordinator: Elizabeth Hardie (UA-MAPTS)

Dynamic Mill Simulator:

Programming Support: UAF-OIT
Graduate Student: Vaibhav Srivastava
Graduate Student: Tushar Gupta


Alaska Miner's Association
Council for Alaska Producers
Sumitomo POGO Gold Mine
Kinross Fort Knox Gold Mine
Hecla Greens Creek Mine
Couer Kensington Mine
Teck Red Dog Mine
Donlin Gold Project

Project Dates


Project Location

Various Locations Statewide


United States Department of Labor (USDOL)
Education and Training Administration (ETA)
Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT)

Award Amount:

$ 8,075,351.00

Project Website:

Project Summary

The average wage in the mining sector in Alaska is about $100,000, which is twice the average wage for all other sectors combined. Additionally, due to growth and other factors, the mining sector has difficulty filling positions. In many cases, the training needed for these positions is very short. Therefore, in a paradigm shift for the institutions involved, partnerships have been formed between doctoral level mining program and community colleges, to create, continue/enhance training opportunities, so that the unemployed can take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the mining sector. The Human Resources and Workforce Development Committee (HRWDC) of the Alaska Miners Association (AMA) identified mill process operators, mechanics, and underground miners as three of the priority occupations. Therefore, this proposal seeks funding to create or sustain programs to award the following credentials 1) Mining Mill Operations (MMO) Occupational Endorsement (OE) 2) Underground New Miner 3) Mine Mechanic (OE) and Mine Mechanic (Associate’s). UAF will also create a mill process simulator, a training tool that currently does not exist anywhere in the world. Once developed, this tool will become part of the MMO program.


Lab During First Cohort of Mining Mill Operations OE


 Mine Mechanic Program at UAS


UA-MAPTS Underground Mine Training