Colorado Section

The Colorado Section is a legally constituted unit of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (SME), encompassing a specific geographical area. Our members are given the opportunity to network with their peers and hear valuable presentations through our activities.

Colorado Section Officers:

Chair: Richard Schwering

Richard is a Resource Geologist with Hard Rock Consulting, LLC. His goal at SME is to encourage participation within the community as well as outreach to the public.

Vice Chair: Heather Lammers

Heather is a mining engineer with Golder Associates and a Ph.D. student at the Colorado School of Mines. Her goal with SME is to promote professional development, networking, and knowledge share opportunities for students, young professionals, and mining industry experts.

Secretary: Melissa Chalona

Melissa Chalona is an environmental engineer with Engineering Analytics in Fort Collins and has been practicing for 21 years. She is excited to join the Colorado Section of SME as the Secretary to encourage collaboration and outreach to those in the mining sector.

Treasurer: Tem Tumurbat

Tem is a mining engineer by background and is an investment analyst with Resource Capital Funds. His goal with SME is to raise funds to provide scholarships to students and support community outreach programs.

Publicity: Kelly Donahue

Kelly Donahue is a geochemist with Brown and Caldwell in Denver CO. Her goal with SME is to grow the Colorado section’s presence on social media to increase awareness of the importance and benefits of mining in Colorado.

Programs: James R. des Cognets

James is a private equity analyst with Resource Capital Funds. He hopes to raise a broader awareness of SME in the Denver community and bring a fresh perspective to programs as someone recently arrived to the mining industry. He studied Mechanical Engineering and French at Vanderbilt University and holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Director-at-Large: Laura Fletcher

Laura is the Vice President - Marketing for Harrison Western. She has previously held the BOD positions of Programs Chair and Golf Tournament Chair. Her objectives with SME are to connect with other mining professionals, to help others connect, and to revive and spread enthusiasm for our industry.

Director-at-Large: Ta Li


Ta is the retired Vice President of Business Development for Tetra Tech, Inc. As former Chairman of the Colorado Section, he has over 45 years of industry experience in mine operations and management, journalism, marketing, sales and management, and engineering and financial consulting. He served as SME President in 2001.

Past Chair: Jessica Spriet


Jessica is a financial analyst at JDS Energy & Mining, with over 10 years of experience in the mining industry as a mineral economist and geological engineer.  She has served as secretary, chair, and now past chair.

Golf Tournament:
Alex Holtzapple

Alex is a metallurgical engineer by background, currently serving as the Managing Director at Metsim International.  As the Golf Chair, his goal with the Colorado section of SME is to continue to build upon the already great fundraiser golf tournament, bringing in new sponsors and players each year, and increasing available scholarship funds.

View the list of past section chairs here. (PDF)

SME Bylaws:

SME & DRMS Collaboration:
The SME Colorado Section and the State of Colorado Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) developed a website, Reclamation Colorado, to provide information on regulations governing the reclamation of mine sites in Colorado that were active after 1975, as well as currently active mine sites in Colorado. The site includes descriptions of the various mining phases along with some of the regulatory and permitting requirements for each phase. Additionally, the website includes pictures of the successful mine site reclamation project in Colorado.

Minerals Education Coalition (MEC) Committee:

  • Contact MEC Chair, Dick Beach at
  • Regular meetings are 1st Friday of each month. Location is determined by the Committee Chairperson
  • If you would like a speaker to come to your classroom or civic group, contact the Section's MEC Committee at

Minerals Processing Division (MPD) Committee

Colorado School of Mines (CSM) Student Chapter:

  • The CSM SME student chapter is an active organization on campus working to raise awareness about mining within the community, as well as on campus.
  • The section organizes many different activities to improve networking with industry professionals as well as to build relationships between companies and our members.  
  • Officer meetings on Mondays from noon to 1 PM on the CSM campus.
  • If you have any questions, contact the Student Chapter President, Indira Gregorio, or the Industry Advisor, Amanda Garcia,

Links and Current News: