Senate Document Number 2112S


Date of Senate Approval 01/19/12


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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:


APC Document 14: Add new courses, ENVR 311, 410, 411;

Add Mineral Processing as an option for students in the Earth Science Concentration in Environmental Studies

Effective Date: Fall 2012



1. Add: On page 140, new course, ENVR 311:


311 Fundamentals of Mineral Processing (4)

Principles of selected unit operations and processes in mineral processing. Prerequisite: ENVR 105. Fall.


2. Add: On page 143, new course, ENVR 410:


410 Flotation and Surface Science (4)

Theory and application of flotation for mineral processing. Includes particulate agglomeration, flocculation, and dispersion. Prerequisite: ENVR 311. Odd years Spring.


3. Add: On page, 143, new course, ENVR 411:


411 Mineral Processing Plant Operation (3)

Applied unit operations: comminution, classification, solid-liquid separation, solid-solid separation, leaching, and materials handling. Prerequisite: ENVR 311. Even years Spring.




Minor impact on existing program and facilities. Significant gain by offering a unique focus in Earth Science.


All new classes will be taught by Mineral Research Lab (MRL) faculty; UNCA classes for concentration already in place.

New class space will not be a problem with newly renovated spaces, including two new classrooms.

No new labs or facilities needed. Labs for mineral processing courses will be conducted at the Minerals Research Lab at 180 Coxe Avenue (downtown Asheville).

        Numbers of students will start small, but eventually we expect a maximum of 15-20.

Funding will be pursued from mining companies for an endowment for scholarships.



Joint venture between UNCA Environmental Studies and NCSU Minerals Research Laboratory to offer a focus in Earth Science on analysis and processing of minerals following extraction.


The Environmental Studies Department at UNCA has had a cooperative relationship with the MRL over the past 20 years, with UNCA students conducting undergraduate research at the MRL and working as laboratory assistants (and both). UNCA faculty and MRL faculty have collaborated on research projects, and MRL often hosts field trips for UNCA Earth Science classes. For the past several years, MRL faculty have been teaching a mineral processing class of benefit to Environmental Studies students at no cost to UNCA: Mineral Science & Processing (ENVR 373), taught by Dr. Robert Mensah-Biney.


As education is one of the three missions of the MRL, we in Environmental Studies and at MRL have discussed various avenues of academic cooperation, with the MRL being the fruit of those discussions. Subsequently, the General Administration asked for proposals for new academic programs that required few resources for implementation, so we submitted a proposal for the Mineral Processing option in Earth Science, as a joint effort between UNCA and MRL. With approval from GA, Provost Fernandes has directed us to propose the MSP program as a degree concentration in Environmental Studies.

MSP is focused on industrial (nonmetallic) minerals, which are the largest volume/tonnage of mineral materials extracted from earth. Mining waste products (mostly tailings) comprise approximately 40% of the solid waste stream in the U.S., according to the US EPA.

Professionals engaged in extraction and processing of industrial minerals currently are trained in engineering and chemical aspects but not environmental issues.

Few degree programs currently exist for mineral processing (NC State had one but discontinued years ago). Mineral commodity prices fell due to low demand, and hydrology/environmental geology issues became prominent in the early 1980s, causing many university programs in mineral resources and mining engineering to be dropped. In the mid-1990s however, the middle class of the world began growing, particularly in China and India, creating strong demand for mineral commodities, mineral science and mining professionals, and university programs to produce them. A few mineral processing degrees exist (Penn State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia Univ., etc.) but few of those remaining emphasize industrial minerals, and none include environmental education, which has become an essential part of mineral extraction in the U.S. and most developed nations.

This proposed program will include courses in Environmental Science that other mineral processing degree majors do not.

Proposed program takes advantage of unique opportunity: proximity of UNCA and MRL (downtown Asheville) provides opportunity for collaboration on subjects of mutual interest.

MRL is a unique facility: lab facility that is a NCSU extension service for the mining industry, and has as part of its mission education outreach. Therefore, MRL is a natural partner for UNC Asheville in this curricular endeavor.

MRL expects to add a new academic scientist to their staff with this UNCA-MRL collaboration in mind. UNCA Environmental Studies faculty will participate fully in the search committee for the new scientist.



4. Delete: On page 138, first sentence in second paragraph:


The department offers students the opportunity to pursue one of three concentrations: Earth Science, Ecology and Environmental Biology, or Environmental Management and Policy.


Add: On page 138, in place of deleted entry:


The department offers students the opportunity to pursue one of three concentrations: Earth Science, Ecology and Environmental Biology, or Environmental Management and Policy. Earth Science students may focus on mineral processing, which involves the analysis and processing of minerals following extraction. They may also choose to pursue teacher licensure.




5. Delete: On page 138, under Concentration in Earth Science:


31-33 hours distributed as follows: ENVR 105, 320, 338, 385; 15-17 hours of Earth Science electives chosen from ENVR 106, 282, 310, 331, 362, 383, 384, and PHYS 131 or 221.


Add: On page 138, in place of deleted entry:


At least 31 hours distributed as follows: ENVR 105, 320, 338, 385; at least 15 additional hours of Earth Science electives chosen from ENVR 106, 282, 310, 311, 362, 381, 383, 384, 410, 411, and PHYS 131 or 221. Students interested in mineral processing should take ENVR 282, 311, 410, 411 and PHYS 221 as part of their major requirements. MATH 191, 192 must be taken to fulfill the math requirement for the major.



Students will still be able to complete the concentration without taking additional hours, but they will have the option of taking courses for mineral processing if they want.



Lists the courses students should take if they are interested in Mineral Processing. Each of the courses can be used to complete major and correlate requirements for Environmental Studies.