Oct 14, 2012 1:48 AM by Sam Salzwedel
TUCSON - A mining organization gave thousands in scholarships to University of Arizona students.
The Tucson section of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration gave a total of $22,500 to 18 students. The scholarships ranged from $500 to $3,000.
Mining companies including ASARCO, Rosemont and Freeport-McMoRan donated the money.
Most of the students are pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mining Engineering.
Tyler Morgan was one of the recipients.
"The thing that was really appealing to me is, it's an industry that affects everyone on the planet," he said, "and at the end of the day, I feel like I'm really doing something that contributes to society."
Allison Hagerman also received a scholarship.
"When I first graduate, I already have a job," she said, "and it's looking really good. The sciences are really helping out our economy."
But mining also has critics.
Roger Featherstone is the Director of the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition. He said most of the state's mines are operating under capacity.
"They basically get a free ride," Featherstone said, "and give very little, if anything, back to the communities."
He believes eco-friendly companies are more profitable over time.
"I would hope that the students would take their knowledge and use it wisely," Featherstone said, "for not only their own benefit, for the benefit of the communities around them."
Some students said they agree with that statement.
"If people actually spent the time to learn the different technology," Hagerman said, "and learn the different methods that we're using, they'd be very happy with it."
The U of A's mining program is one of 17 in the country.
Harvard graduates are earning less than grads from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, according to a recent report on Bloomberg.com.