The Mining Hub

South Dakota Mines has a long history in the development and advancement of mining. It is one of only five universities in the United States to have all three mineral industry disciplines: Geology and Geological Engineering, Mining Engineering and Management, and Materials and Metallurgical Engineering. The multidisciplinary research collaborations have a history of creating advancements and innovation that benefit society. For these reasons, in addition to our location, South Dakota Mines is well-positioned to be the hub that fosters innovation in mining.

The mining industry is evolving rapidly. With an influx of new processes and techniques, plus advanced new technologies, mining is experiencing a step change that is creating new opportunities for miners — and for the regions in which they mine. 

These days mining is high tech. Autonomous equipment, robotics, and artificial intelligence are some of the latest innovations that require a highly skilled workforce. 

Mining leads all industries in the autonomous space — with more autonomous miles traveled than all autonomous automotive companies combined. And emerging mining technologies are on pace to transcend other industries —including agriculture, construction, automotive and other autonomous vehicle applications.

The Mining Hub is designed to be an incubator for these emerging technologies. It is a place for educators, researchers, corporations, organizations…and students… to collaborate, learn, discover, and innovate.

This hub brings together diverse partners to work in convergent research areas that include technology development and implementation, digitalization, human factors, and many other areas to support sustainable recovery of the Earth’s resources, to ensure a stable national supply of materials, and to support the nation’s needs.

Each of these areas within the hub will support and provide resources for each other.

Cat® Labs MineStar Consortium

Caterpillar recently sponsored a new partnership with South Dakota Mines that explores technologies such as autonomous robotic mining, cutting edge software used to manage mining and construction operations, and new equipment that increases efficiency and safety. These technological advancements will increase sustainability of the earth’s natural resources while improving productivity and promoting economic development. 

South Dakota Mines will help lead Cat® Labs MineStar™ Consortium, which partners university faculty and students with Caterpillar engineers and researchers to help build the next generation of mining and construction technology. The partnership could involve a range of projects from research and development in surface mining and reclamation in places like the Powder River Basin to the development of an underground area to test robotic mining equipment at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. 

The Cat Labs MineStar Consortium is a significant component of The Mining Hub.


For Students

  • Students from any engineering or science discipline can take part in activities happening within the hub.
  • Students will have in-demand skill sets employers need.
  • More employers will be attracted to what the university and its partners are doing, providing more internship, co-op, and employment opportunities for students.

For South Dakota

  • Potential for spin-off companies to be developed, providing high-tech and high-paying jobs that will have an economic impact on the Black Hills, South Dakota, and the region
  • Graduates will be able to stay and work in the state, have families, develop their careers -  providing a high return on investment for public higher education and an increase in the overall tax base.
  • Provide an even larger, highly-skilled workforce for existing South Dakota businesses.

Mining Hub Partners

Caterpillar Logo
Coeur Wharf Logo


Western Dakota Tech Logo

Pete Lien And Sons Logo
Cargill logo
Peabody logo
Agnico Eagle