Mining in Society merit badge requirements released

miningWithout mining, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post right now. That’s because the high-tech components found in smartphones, tablets and computers are made of mined minerals.

Reading this on a computer? Thank mining for the silicon, copper, gold, silver and aluminum that make it work. Using a smartphone or tablet? Beneath each tap are rare-earth elements like yttrium, lanthanum, praseodymium and a handful of others I can’t pronounce.

Scouts who earn the new Mining in Society merit badge will, as the badge’s name suggests, gain a better appreciation for the role mining plays in our country.

Today the Boy Scouts of America officially releases Mining in Society, making it the 134th current merit badge. The badge is an elective merit badge, meaning it isn’t required for boys pursuing the Eagle Scout rank but is perfect for young men interested in exploring this as a potential career or just an interesting subject they want to learn more about.

The official “earn date,” or the date Scouts may begin work on Mining in Society, is today, Feb. 24, 2014. Look for the pamphlet in your local Scout Shop and at soon.

The BSA is releasing Mining in Society at the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City, happening now.

“Mining has been an important part of the United States since the 19th century,” the BSA says. “Today, the U.S. mining industry employs 3 million people, directly and indirectly, and is a major contributor to the global mining landscape. This merit badge will cover the history of mining, explore the status of mining in the 21st century, and introduce Scouts to modern mining careers.”

But enough talk. I bet you came here for the official, full requirements. Check those out after the jump.

Mining in Society merit badge requirements

1. Do the following:

a. Select 10 different minerals. For each one, name a product for which the mineral is used.

b. Explain the role mining has in production and processing things that are grown.

c. From the list of minerals you chose for 1a, determine the countries where those minerals can be found, and discuss what you learned with your counselor.

2. Obtain a map of your state or region showing major cities, highways, rivers, and railroads. Mark the locations of five different mining enterprises. Find out what resource is processed at each location, and identify the mine as a surface or underground operation. Discuss with your counselor how the resources mined at these locations are used.

3. Discuss with your counselor the potential hazards a miner may encounter at an active mine and the protective measures used by miners. In your discussion, explain how:

a. The miner’s personal protective equipment is worn and used, including a hard hat, safety glasses, earplugs, dust mask or respirator, self-rescue device, and high-visibility vest.

b. Miners protect their hands and feet from impact, pinch, vibration, slipping, and tripping/falling hazards.

c. Monitoring equipment warns miners of imminent danger, and how robots are used in mine rescues.

4. Discuss with your counselor the dangers someone might encounter at an abandoned mine. Include information about the “Stay Out—Stay Alive” program.

5. Do ONE of the following:

a. With your parent’s approval and your counselor’s assistance, use the Internet to find and take a virtual tour of two types of mines. Determine the similarities and differences between them regarding resource exploration, mine planning and permitting, types of equipment used, and the minerals produced. Discuss with your counselor what you learned from your Internet-based mine tours.

b. With your parent’s permission and counselor’s approval, visit a mining or minerals exhibit at a museum. Find out about the history of the museum’s exhibit and the type of mining it represents. Give three examples of how mineral resources have influenced history.

c. With your parent’s permission and counselor’s approval, visit an active mine.* Find out about the tasks required to explore, plan, permit, mine, and process the resource mined at that site. Take photographs if allowed, and request brochures from your visit. Share photos, brochures, and what you have learned with your counselor.

d. With your parent’s permission and counselor’s approval, visit a mining equipment manufacturer or supplier.* Discuss the types of equipment produced or supplied there, and in what part of the mining process this equipment is used. Take photographs if allowed, and request brochures from your visit. Share photos, brochures, and what you have learned with your counselor.

e. Discuss with your counselor two methods used to reduce rock in size, one of which uses a chemical process to extract a mineral. Explain the difference between smelting and refining.

f. Learn about the history of a local mine, including what is or was mined there, how the deposit was found, the mining techniques and processes used, and how the mined resource is or was used. Find out from a historian, community leader, or business person how mining has affected your community. Note any social, cultural, or economic consequences of mining in your area. Share what you have learned with your counselor.

6. Do the following:

a. Choose a modern mining site. Find out what is being done to help control environmental impacts. Share what you have learned about mining and sustainability.

b. Explain reclamation as it is used in mining and how mine reclamation pertains to Scouting’s no-trace principles.

c. Discuss with your counselor what values society has about returning the land to the benefit of wildlife and people after mining has ended. Discuss the transformation of the BSA Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve from a mine site to its current role.

7. Do ONE of the following:

a. Explore the anticipated benefits of interplanetary mining. Learn how NASA and private investors may search for, extract, and process minerals in outer space, and the primary reasons for mining the moon, other planets, or near-Earth asteroids. Find out how exploration and mineral processing in space differ from exploration on Earth. Share what you have learned with your counselor, and discuss the difficulties encountered in exploring, collecting, and analyzing surface or near-surface samples in outer space.

b. Identify three minerals found dissolved in seawater or found on the ocean floor, and list three places where the ocean is mined today. Share this information with your counselor, and discuss the chief incentives for mining the oceans for minerals, the reclamation necessary after mining is over, and any special concerns when mining minerals from the ocean. Find out what sustainability problems arise from mining the oceans. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.

c. Learn what metals and minerals are recycled after their original use has ended. List four metals and two nonmetals, and find out how each can be recycled. Find out how recycling affects the sustainability of natural resources and how this idea is related to mining. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.

d. With your parent’s permission, use the Internet and other resources to determine the current price of gold, copper, aluminum, or other commodities like cement or coal, and find out the five-year price trend for two of these. Report your findings to your counselor.

8. Do ONE of the following:

a. With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, meet with a worker in the mining industry. Discuss the work, equipment, and technology used in this individual’s position, and learn about a current project. Ask to see reports, drawings, and/or maps made for the project. Find out about the educational and professional requirements for this individual’s position. Ask how the individual’s mining career began. Discuss with your counselor what you have learned.

b. Find out about three career opportunities in the mining industry. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

c. With your parent’s permission and counselor’s approval, visit a career academy or community college to learn about educational and training requirements for a position in the mining industry that interests you. Find out why this position is critical to the mining industry, and discuss what you learned with your counselor.

*Visiting a mine site, a mining equipment manufacturer, or an equipment supplier requires advance planning. These sites can be potentially dangerous. You will need permission from your parents and counselor, and the manager of the mine site, or equipment manufacturer or supplier. While there, you will be required to follow closely the site manager’s instructions and comply with all safety rules and procedures, including wearing appropriate clothing, footwear, and personal safety equipment.

Further reading

Mining in Society preview post

Scouts check out Mining in Society at the 2013 jamboree

12 thoughts on “Mining in Society merit badge requirements released

  1. I think that item 5e should be eliminated or requirement 5 should state “Do TWO of the following”. My reasoning is that there is a broad gap between visiting an exhibit and/or visiting a mine site and “discuss with your counselor…” Too many of our merit badges have been “dumbed down” so that many MBs could be earned in scout’s bedroom on a Sunday afternoon, because the requirements are “tell how’, discuss how” or “show how” rather than do this or that. Many scouts (not all) take the easy road and I believe that this is the wrong approach. Scouts should be challenged by the requirements in a merit badge and with these challenges comes the learning experience.
    Many of our scouts were very interested in the SMME’s exhibit at the 2010 National Jamboree and wanted to know if there would be a merit badge. Now we have one and I think it’s a good one. Let’s keep it challenging.

    • I wish the scouts could do all of the requirements under 5, but the reality of scouting in some areas is that there are scouts who do not have the support from parents, their troop, or even access to the internet. Parents won’t drive 300 miles or so to a mining museum from our area, and the nearby quarries will not let people in for safety reasons. So, there has to be a requirement they can do with their counselor, and even that requirement could be a real challenge for that scout.

      • I can’t agree Ron. Merit badges are designed for the hands on experience of doing, not patch collecting. There are many MBs that scouts would like to earn that are just not feasible for them due to environment or geography. A couple that comes to mind are Gardening and Farm Mechanics. I live in a rural area, so that the requirements for badges would be easily accomplished. I’m just guessing here, but I doubt that a scout in an urban setting would be able to accomplish these tasks, and certainly would not be satisfied by a discussion with the counselor. Regarding the Mining MB, you may find that many quarries and mines have public relations offices that are more than willing to accommodate scouts in their quest to learn, and the experience far more rewarding than just talking about it with a counselor.

  2. I bet that there’s plenty of Scouts in Texas, Oklahoma, and similar places that wonder if oil or gas wells could be used for “mining sites”. We have lots more minerals extracted here via drilling than mining. Drilling provides a variety of jobs here, and petroleum engineer was the top paying job out a college as of a year or so ago. We have at least three dads in our troop who are each involved in separate oil/gas businesses.

    • Wozzo, i tend to agree that a well site could be a surrogate for a mine. however the realities of creating a merit badge restrict it to the subjects for which the organization is responsible. SPE may have to tackle the petroleum MB. we do talk about solution mining of salt but that is as close as it gets to oil and gas.

  3. The salt mines down by Hutchinson Kansas have tours and even have a program for an over-nighter for troops! This new merit badge’s timing is fortuitous.

  4. I believe that the geology merit badge pamphlet covers requirements that pertain to oil and natural gas. When developing the Mining in Society merit badge we looked to avoid duplication with other badges; rather we designed the Mining in Society badge to complement the geology, energy, environment, sustainability, etc. badges.

    Speaking for Oklahoma, there are over 600 permitted mines located throughout the state. Dr. Charles J. Mankin, the former Director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, was used to saying that mining was one of Oklahoma’s best kept secrets. Oklahoma ranks in the top ten states in the production of iodine, feldspar, tripoli, gypsum, common clay, and industrial sand and gravel. Oklahoma ranks second in aggregate production on a per capita basis. It ranks 11th in masonry cement. Crushed stone, construction sand and gravel, industrial sand and gravel, and crude gypsum accounts for the greater majority of the industrial mineral wealth of Oklahoma. That’s a whole lot of mining!

    The point behind this is most people don’t know that the products of mining on which they depend are extracted nearby, essentially in their proverbial back yard. The Mining in Society merit badge was designed, in part, to make Scouts aware of this.

    • Marlene,
      The Mining in Society merit badge was launched in February. BSA requires that councilors for the merit badge must get approved by their local council before they may offer the assistance to scouts. this process is ongoing and approved councilors should be available in the next month. The Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, is offereing a web site that provides more information. This is the SME announcement and contact information.
      Please have people go to to see the launch video, requirements, Counselor info flier and sign up for the webinars.

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s