In 1979, me and my young family arrived in Tucson to do mining. We were put in an apartment on the corner of Pantano and Tanque Verde in an apartment overlooking the mountains capped with snow. We spent two years in that apartment and had a third child, born at the Tucson Medical Center. She is now thirty and more, and working as a civil engineer in Iowa.
On important occasions we celebrated at the Westward Look, then the best place in town.
I worked on the design of a 1,000-ft high tailings facility in northeast Washington. Which facility we permitted but never built, for mining collapsed and this particular molybdenum mine was cancelled, along with many others.
We migrated to Vancouver, then Leavenworth, WA, then Albuquerque. We returned one weekend to Tucson and the Westward Look. We were half-way through a luxury meal when the message came that my son back in Albuquerque was in hospital with some indecipherable affliction. My wife flew back and I drove back in haste. He survived and is today a Commandant in the US Navy.
This week, I returned to Tucson on mining business and to stay in the Westward Look. It looks the same in spite of the passage of the years. Maybe it is a bit tired and old. Certainly their internet connection does not work—although they are promising to fix it. The main restaurant is closed on a Monday although they promise to open it tomorrow. And the view of Tucson is still as magnificent as ever.
My mission this time is to deal with mining issues at a Central American mine. I am now acting as a specialist advisor to a large Tucson mining EPCM company. They have vast offices in northwest Tucson—the most beautiful part of town. They are 700 plus strong in spite of their short name. Most of their work is for mines in Mexico and Central America. They are an impressive success.
I met their chief and he is no different from Kay Pincock of Pincock Allen and Holt, the company I first came to work with. Both are rugged, tough, tight, old, and yet brilliant in their insight and practicality. Both ask those penetrating questions about schedule, the number of trucks, traffic patterns, production rates, lower costs, and stability in the short and long term. History repeats itself in these two men, and the people who make Tucson a great town for mining expertise.
The staff of the new company I am now working with are also an echo of the folk I first worked with in Tucson in 1979. All wear big buckles of intricate pattern; all are lean and deliberate. You could almost say slow, but this slowness is but a cultural pattern that overlays great practicality backed up by great intelligence. All accept mining as an honorable career and are proud of their ability to get things done, to build things, and to pull the ore from a recalcitrant ground.
So tomorrow, we will delve into the details. For grand concept are well & good. Bit at the end of the day, you need to flesh out the details. We did this in 1979 and I am happy to be repeating the process in 2012.