As an Arizona native, and the person responsible for the Rosemont Copper Project tours, I am compelled to respond to the Rev. Stuart Taylor's recent guest column, "For Southern Arizona's sake, we mustn't let the Rosemont mine happen."
I come from a Southern Arizona family that has upheld the proud tradition of mining for three generations. I know firsthand the beneficial impacts mining has on a region's economic development. My relatives have used mining careers to care for and educate families; their children are now doctors, managers, engineers, teachers and public servants.
I am a 1996 University of Arizona graduate with a mine engineering degree. My work took me from Nevada to Colorado and from Venezuela to Ecuador before the opportunity to join Rosemont Copper allowed for a move home in 2008. I had to leave Tucson for 15 years because there were few career opportunities locally.
My travels reinforced what I already knew: mining is a foundation industry for a community, benefitting not only its direct workforce but also a many indirect well-paying jobs. In general, Tucson does not have work opportunities for professionals and young adults. I see a need to work with the community and develop other technology rich projects with job opportunities, such as Rosemont Copper.
Dr. Richard Florida, one of the world's leading intellectuals on economic competitiveness, told our city's business leaders about the growing problem of what he calls the "Brain Drain Index" - the ability to retain young talent that drives a competitive economy. Tucson's ability to retain enough university graduates will likely be one of the biggest obstacles to achieving a competitive economy. This is a problem we have the opportunity to change through the efforts of companies like Rosemont Copper.
Rosemont has partnered with Tucson's leading educational institutions, including the University of Arizona and Pima Community College, to ensure that students in search of higher education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math can find gainful, local employment upon graduation.
Many educated and trained workers, like me, and many Rosemont staff who have called Southern Arizona their home, want to stay with their family and follow their passion to use new technologies and create a collaborative relationship between mining and the environment. Resourceful planning, advancing education, and building community partnerships are what set this generation of mining companies and workers apart.
Lastly, the argument that Augusta Resource has never operated a mine before is just not true. It's not a company that creates a sustainable project - it's the people. Rosemont Copper employees hold more than 400 years of cumulative mining experience. The leadership team of Rosemont Copper is second-to-none, including individuals that have worked on some of the most advanced sustainable mining operations worldwide. The Arizona Diamondbacks weren't even a team before 1998, but by 2001 they won the World Series.
Rosemont Copper's tagline, a bridge to a sustainable future, extends the definition of sustainability to include the social and economic effects of mining, in addition to environmental considerations. Each of these aspects is interdependent on the others and requires balanced consideration in creating a modern production facility - something Rosemont Copper has committed to provide for the families of Southern Arizona.
Fermin Samorano is a mine manager with Rosemont Copper.