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License plates to support mining education
by Tribune Staff
Feb 18, 2012 | 755 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print

RENO — The Nevada DMV has accepted the Northern Nevada Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (NNSME) application and $5,000 surety bond for a special license plate to support Earth sciences education in Nevada.

This is the first step in a three-step approval process to issue a new Nevada license plate. The second step is authorization by the Commission on Special License Plates,  comprised of five state legislators. The third step is the design of the artwork and lettering in collaboration with the Nevada DMV and subject to Nevada Highway Patrol approval.

The preliminary design depicts a bearded miner, possibly Adolph Sutro, holding a pick-axe over his head with both hands. Sculpted by Greg Melton, the bronze statue tribute to Nevada Miners stands atop a granite boulder in front of the Nevada Supreme Court building in Carson City and was dedicated in 1983.

The mining industry retires 200 to 400 professionals each year, according to a February 2011 SME report. This rapid retirement rate is causing a shortage of mining engineers. In 2004, 13 U.S. mining schools graduated only 87 engineers. Domestic employment of mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers, is projected to grow from 7,100 in 2008 to 8,200 in 2018 as reported by the 2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mining industry will need more than 300 new professionals each year, plus those needed in academia and government. In “An Economic Overview of Nevada’s Minerals Industry, 2010 2011,” John Dobra , an associate professor of economics and director of the Natural Resource Industry Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno, estimates the mining industry generated more than 63,900 Nevada jobs. The report shows the average number of direct jobs in mining in 2010 totaled 12,210.

“After this plate is issued we expect over $20,000 per year to be added to our scholarship fund and all of that will be given to university and K-12 Earth sciences students in Nevada,” said Ron Starr, NNSME chairman. “As a graduate student at UNR, I see no end in sight to the escalating expenses of pursuing a degree. When tuition increases are not authorized fees are fabricated such as the engineering differential per credit fee, the technology per credit fee, and the surcharge per credit fee. Geology majors can be especially hard hit. Imagine learning that the $3,400 mandatory six-credit Geology 451 Field Camp has been cancelled, like it was in summer 2011, and you must travel to Africa, Alaska, Australia, Canada or New Zealand at up to five times the cost, or wait a year to graduate. We’d like to be able to step in and help Mackay students financially and the special license plate proceeds will give us that ability.”

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