Mongolian mining boom spurs partnership with UAF to create joint mining engineering degree

FAIRBANKS — University of Alaska Fairbanks officials hope a proposed agreement between the school and a Mongolian university will serve both the state and give its students an edge on the mining boom taking place in the central Asian nation.

UAF chancellor Brian Rogers says his visit next week to the Mongolian University of Science and Technology will seal a deal in the works for a year, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports.

Students in the program would spend two years in Mongolia, followed by three years in Fairbanks. They would graduate with degrees in mining engineering.

“I think exposure to students from other countries better prepares us for the 21st century,” Rogers said. “We see this as having tremendous long-term opportunities.”

The deal for the Alaska school is sweetened by the fact that foreign students pay full tuition.

The university already has such deals in place with schools in India and China. The project was brought about by Rajive Ganguli, a professor of mining engineering who worked with the Mongolian school for the past year to finalize the details behind the agreement.

Of particular interest to the program is the massive Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia, which is expected to begin commercial production by 2013. The estimated reserves are stunning: 1.2 billion pounds of copper and 650,000 ounces of gold per year in the first decade of operation.

At the same time, huge coal and mineral deposits are being explored throughout the country, which remains sparsely populated.

Rogers said it’s uncertain how many students will take advantage of the partnership with the two schools. There are already about 15 Mongolian students studying at the university through a separate agreement with the rural development program.

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