In February of this year, AMIGOS, the Arizona trade association of mining industry suppliers, co-hosted a Mining Appreciation Luncheon in Tucson. The 300-seat event sold out in 48 hours. Ben Buehler-Garcia, of the Inside Tucson Business publication, used that fact as evidence of a growing “fire” in the Arizona mining industry – a fire with the potential to see Southern Arizona emerge as what he calls the “Silicon Valley of mining training and technology … The World leader in mining training … A mining technology and innovation hub.” As President of AMIGOS, I couldn’t agree more. AMIGOS is an acronym that stands for Arizona Mining and Industry Get our Support, but it also means “friends.” We AMIGOS are the mines’ best friends. Our businesses provide the best of the best in goods and services to Arizona’s vibrant mining industry. More than friends, the mining suppliers in Arizona are vital industry partners and, together with researchers and innovators at the University of Arizona, combined with Arizona’s abundant mineral wealth, the entrepreneurs of AMIGOS are helping to create the next generation of mining.
To paraphrase an old slogan, “This isn’t your grandfather’s mining industry.” AMIGOS member companies are creating new technologies to enable copper to be mined with amazing new efficiencies, with safeguards over air and water quality and with safety records that far surpass other industries.
Worldwide demand for Arizona’s abundant copper (Arizona produces over 65% of our nation’s newly mined copper) is high and rising. Increasing demand for renewable energy alone, not to mention the need for consumer electronics and electrical appliances, will continue to fuel this clamoring for copper. There are 800 pounds of copper in a wind turbine. And the relatively low manufacturing costs for thin-film copper-indium-gallium-selenium (CIGS) solar cells may hold the promise of cheap, "green" electric power.
Much of this demand will be met by Arizona mines and their suppliers. The Fraser Institute annually conducts a worldwide survey of the mining industry. In its latest survey, Arizona ranks 20th out of 112 jurisdictions worldwide as a place to mine – jumping eight places, even pulling ahead of Alaska. But for those of us who are blessed to live in Arizona, it is the best place to mine and a great place for a mining supplier to jump in.
According to the latest economic impact study by the L. William Seidman Research Institute of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, approximately 12,100 Arizonans are directly employed by Arizona mining companies, but nearly four times that number are employed by mining suppliers.
And new mining projects from Resolution Copper, Rosemont Copper, Wildcat Silver, Florence Copper and more are on the horizon.
It is a good time to be a part of this exciting industry. Yes, copper was one of the “Five C’s” from Arizona statehood: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate. As Arizona begins her second century, the future of copper is as bright as ever.