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June 26, 2012
By Ben Lawson, media assistant
Some students work in offices for their summer internships, but Northwest Missouri State University student Deanna Mandrick travels 1,000 feet underground each day to go to work.
Mandrick, a junior environmental geology major from Craig, is spending her summer as a mine geologist intern with the Doe Run Mining Company near Viburnum.
In her internship, she grades mine headings and determines whether the amount of lead in an area is economical for the company to mine. She also maps mined areas and assists with mineral exploration.
Mandrick was the only intern selected from about 60 applicants, and the opportunity has altered her career plans, she said.
“I am still interested in environmental geology, but I really think that I am going to stick with mining,” Mandrick said. “It is really more interesting to me now that I have been around it a little bit. Mining is much more hands-on, and I actually get to go out and do things in the mine.”
The job may be interesting, but it does come with its share of risks and safety requirements. Because of the dangerous nature of working in a mine, all workers are required to log when they enter the mine, where they travel within the mine and when and where they leave the mine. It is possible to travel as far as seven miles underground within the mine.
“It’s kind of a different world inside a mine,” Deanna said. “It’s not really scary, but you just have to be sure to keep safety constantly in mind.”
Doe Run is globally recognized, however, as one of the safest of all mining companies, having received numerous safety awards. Workers are required to wear protective clothing, a belt with a mine lamp and an extra battery, and an emergency breathing apparatus.
Mandrick said Northwest faculty and coursework helped prepare her for the internship – specifically classes in mineralogy, sedimentology and geology.
“Many of my classes really helped me understand what was going on down here,” she said. “More importantly, they gave me knowledge that I could apply to help me learn more while working here.”
Dr. Aaron Johnson, assistant professor of geosciences, recommended the internship to Mandrick because he saw her as the right person for the job.
Johnson said Mandrick’s experience growing up on a farm helped prepare her for the mining internship because the kind of hot, sweaty, difficult and dangerous work done on a farm presents similar emotional and physical challenges.
“This job is not for the faint of heart,” Johnson said. “You’re 1,000 feet underground. It’s dangerous. You really have to be the kind of person that is willing to push yourself not just physically but intellectually because the opportunity is there to learn a lot. Deanna was one of the few students that really combined those qualities. She was really just emotionally, intellectually and physically ready and able to step up to this kind of challenge.”
The Doe Run Mining Company is the largest integrated lead producer in the western hemisphere, with operations in Missouri, Washington, and Arizona. The Missouri mines account for 70 percent of the lead mined in America today, according to the Doe Run Mining Company’s website. Most of the lead mined by Doe Run is used to make car batteries assembled in the United States.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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