Internationalisation of mining education and research - a recurring process running through the centuries
International cooperation and mobility are buzzwords of today’s research and innovation clusters all over the world. These are however not new concepts. The understanding that research and innovation can only thrive in an international and open environment has been in place for at least 300 years in Sweden. All interested and knowledgeable scientists and business developers have been welcomed to push the front of knowledge and the industry forward. The international contacts of Swedish mining education, research and innovation prove that with an open mind and a persistent, long term effort results will come.
The roots of mining education and research in Sweden dates back to the 17th century. Initially the focus was on applied research rather than education, but the early efforts also slowly led to important purely scientific results. Swedish metallurgists/chemists have discovered more elements than scientists from any other nation. Over 150 years, from the early 18th century to the end of the 19th century, 20 elements - and among them many industrially important metals — were isolated and described.
The ancient Falu copper mine was the logical choice for location of one of the first technical schools in Sweden: “Falu Bergskola” (Falu Mining School), which was set up in 1822. Its first director was precisely one of the chemical scientists engaged in the discovery of new elements. This Mining school was later merged with other existing institutions offering some technical training into “Tekniska Institutet” (the Technical Insitute). This was in 1876 transformed into a technical high school along German models. The Association of Swedish Iron and Steel industry (Jernkontoret in Swedish) was a key supporter and funder of these developments. The new school was called Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) in translation Royal Institute of Technology. KTH had 5 departments, including a school of mining science.
In 1972 the education of mining engineers was transferred to the newly established Luleå Technical College close to the Arctic Circle. The College was later expanded and in 1997 renamed Luleå University of Technology (LTU). LTU has become one of the leading mining universities in Europe, to a large extent due to the fact that it is situated in the centre of one of Europe’s remaining mining regions. Around 2/3 of all university trained staff employed by Swedish mining has been trained at LTU. But LTU has also had its focus on the mining sector for a long time and in its internal program Mines of the Future it has relentlessly pushed the importance of mining and minerals and demonstrated its ambition to be a leading actor in this area. LTU has been appointed by Swedish government to lead the national education and research in mining. The recent decision by the EU to locate one EIT Raw Materials CLC (Co-location Centre) to Luleå means that the university has been given a similar role also on the EU level. LTU has actively built international links and supported cooperation with other universities within Europe and around the world. The bold and officially stated aim is to become one of the globally leading mining universities.
Eurasian Mining, ISSN 2072-0823, Vol. 2, p. 44-48