Mind if I Mine Here?

Lesson Overview


Students are presented with a mining expansion permit application and must ask critical questions in order to determine if the permit should be approved or rejected. They address the impact of mining on plants and wildlife, human populations, water resources, and the economy. They are then asked to act as a regulatory group, such as the EPA, to suggest ways that the mining company can minimize their impact and ways to monitor their reclamation efforts.

About the Scientist

Crystal Hocking

Institution: RESPEC Consulting, Inc.

Hello! My name is Crystal and I am a Professional Geologist and Professional Engineer, though most of my work is focused on hydrogeology and mining. I work for RESPEC, we are a private engineering consulting company in Rapid City, but we do work all over the world. My dad was in the Air Force, but I spent most of my time growing up in western South Dakota. When I was young, I excelled in all subjects, but I never really thought much about a career in science and engineering as I didn’t really know what that would look like. Fresh out of high school, I started college at Black Hills State University originally thinking I’d major in elementary education. I had taken geology in high school, and my first year in college I took physical geology. After an elective class on Martian geology, I was certain I loved learning about geology and wanted more, so I decided a change in majors was in order. I transferred to South Dakota School of Mines and Technology half way through my sophomore year of college. I earned my bachelor’s degree in geology and continued on to receive my master’s degree in geology and geological engineering. To qualify for professional certification in my field, I took classes while working full time to eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering and take certification exams both for professional geology and professional engineering certifications. I have had the opportunity to go on many geology field trips throughout college, as part of conferences, and for my work; which is important because they say “the best geologists are the ones that have seen the most rocks.” My favorite experiences were camping in National Parks in Utah and seeing the travertine rock formations in Pamukkale Turkey. I work on a variety of projects including groundwater modeling projects for Wharf Mine in the Black Hills, hydrogeology studies and mine permitting for proposed in-situ uranium mines in South Dakota and Wyoming, sinkhole and subsidence analysis for mines and caverns across the US, mine roof hazard analysis for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and mine resource modeling for cement plants.