Tucson is becoming hub for mining technology

February 10, 2020

With mining companies such as Modular Mining, Hexagon and Caterpillar’s Surface Mining and Technology division calling Tucson, AZ home, the mining industry has long recognized the area as a mining hot bed.

A new report from the Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson LLC has taken note as well.

“Reasons are plentiful as to why companies offering products and services to support the industry will find success in Tucson and Southern Arizona,” said the report written by Michael Coretz and Jan Knight, of Commercial Real Estate Group of Tucson LLC. “Both new technology startups and established firms planning to expand or relocate will find that opportunities are plentiful.

“The support system for those mining operations consists not only of global suppliers that are based here (but) trade association and the University of Arizona enrich this system, supporting efforts for area industry growth,” said the report.

The report notes that in recognition of the importance of Tucson as the center for mining and related services, the University of Arizona will open the new University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum in the historic Pima County Courthouse downtown later this year and that the museum will include a section on the role the mining industry plays today in Arizona’s economy.

Tucon.com reported that Southern Arizona supplies more than 60 percent of the nation’s copper from open pit and underground mines, so recruiting the supporting companies to the region has been a focus of economic development efforts.

“We have been fortunate to have companies like Modular Mining — born out of the UA — and Hexagon Mining, which was founded in Tucson before being purchased by Hexagon out of Sweden, to make their home in Tucson and spur us to become a world leader in mining technology,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc. “The industry then took a big leap forward in 2016 when we landed Caterpillar’s Surface Mining & Technology division.

“We all realized we can do this and become the center for mining in the Southwest. When a cluster gains momentum, the sky’s the limit.”
Arizona has about 380 active mines, according to the Arizona Geological Survey at the University of Arizona. Commodities include metals, such as copper and gold, and gravel, cement, gypsum and salt. Freeport-McMoRan and Asarco have large operation in southern Arizona and proposed mines Resolution Copper and Rosemont Mine could join the list in the future.

The industry is estimated to have a $6 billion impact on Arizona’s economy with about 36,000 jobs connected to mining.

One of the oldest mining-technology companies, Modular Mining, recently opened its new customer experience center near the Tucson airport to showcase how its technology helps guide autonomous trucks in mines that improve safety and productivity.

Modular’s first customer was Phelps Dodge, now owned by Freeport McMoRan, in 1979.



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