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Anani accepts an award plaque
Angelina Anani accepts the Mining & Engineering Young Professional Award in February.

Mining Society Recognizes Angelina Anani as Outstanding Young Professional

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Mining Society Recognizes Angelina Anani as Outstanding Young Professional

May 6, 2024
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The associate professor of mining and geological engineering improves sustainability through emerging technologies and mentors young minds.

Angelina Anani has distinguished herself as a mining technology expert since joining the University of Arizona Department of Mining and Geological Engineering in 2021. Now, the Mining & Exploration Division of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration  has recognized the associate professor with its Outstanding Young Professional Award.

Kray Luxbacher, the Gregory H. and Lisa S. Boyce Leadership Chair and MGE department head, nominated Anani for the honor, citing her artificial intelligence research and commitment to mentorship. Established in 1996, SME’s Young Professional Award recognizes the accomplishments of individuals working in the mining and exploration industry.

“Dr. Anani is at the leading edge of research and teaching in mining engineering, and her contributions are impactful. She is an outstanding member of our department,” said Luxbacher.

SME selected Anani for the Freeport-McMoRan Inc. Academic Career Development Grant in 2022. In 2023, she placed UArizona among the nation’s first universities to incorporate virtual reality into mining instruction.

“Getting recognized for the work that I do is such an honor,” Anani said. “There are so many people out there doing really great work in our industry, but getting noticed for my contributions encourages me to do more.”

Anani said the award will aid her career.

“When I generate ideas, talk to people, and try to work with them, they’ll understand that I'm hardworking, credible and passionate about the industry.”

Meeting Uncertainty With Technology

Anani initially pursued a career in mining engineering because of the opportunity it afforded her to study abroad. Originally from Ghana, she began her bachelor’s degree at the University of Botswana before transferring to Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“There's so much mystery and uncertainty surrounding mining,” she said, explaining why she has stayed focused on mining engineering. “You try to remove mineral resources from the ground, and the ground fights you the entire time.”

Anani loves the challenge of solving these problems, she said, knowing how many everyday materials must be mined.

“I feel like I'm doing my part for the world.”

Her current research work involves investigating technology for decision support. Technologies such as robots and virtual reality can increase safety in both surface and underground mines, she said, adding that remote monitoring in underground mines keeps engineers from being exposed to hazardous conditions.

“The general goal is to try and come up with decision support tools that make the industry better, makes people safe, and help us extract minerals in a sustainable way.”

In her nomination, Luxbacher praised Anani’s systems approach to mine design and the digital twin, or virtual reality model, of the UA San Xavier Mine Anani developed for use in teaching and research.

An Engaged Role Model

The role of mentor is also one Anani takes seriously.

“Mentoring young minds is one of the things I’m most passionate about,” she said.

She mentors her undergraduate research students not only on technical skills but also by providing career advice. She has partnered with the college’s ENGAGED (ENGineering Access, Greater Equity, and Diversity) program, which serves students underrepresented in engineering, including women, first-generation college students, and those who are from low-income households and minority groups.

She also advises the Women in Mining student chapter, which gives her the opportunity to reach out to women pursuing careers in the industry.

“I'm one of the very first Black women faculty in the country,” she said. “We do not have a lot of people of color like me in the mining industry, and I understand that representation is very important. That’s why I try to do my part through mentorship of people like me as well.”

A Bright Future 

With her new accolade under her belt, the future looks bright for Anani. Going forward, she plans to help leverage more technologies such as robotics and virtual reality to work toward a zero-injury mining industry.  She also hopes to realize a future where diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded in mining jobs, which includes a new project that focuses specifically on the impact of gender segregation on female workers’ retention and well-being in the mining industry.

 “Where are the women in mining?” she said. “Why can't we retain them? And why have the numbers been significantly low over the centuries? We're getting some exciting results through focus groups and interviews. I truly can't wait to share those results with our industry and see the impacts that we can make. So there's definitely a lot to look forward to.”