On April 4, 2014, the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) participated in the Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining Profile Event held in Phoenix, AZ. The Center for Environmentally Sustainable Mining (CESM) is an industry/academic cooperative created by the UA SRP in partnership with the UA Lowell Institute of Mineral Resources (IMR), a global center of excellence in mining. The CESM is the environmental stewardship pillar of the Institute for Mineral Resources and represents a University-wide effort to bring researchers together with the mining industry to examine environmental stewardship of mining sites. The Profile Event was held to introduce the CESM to a statewide audience, including industry and legislature, and was sponsored by the CESM technical advisory committee (TAC), a panel of experts from the mining industry who help to evaluate and direct the activities of the CESM. Steve Trussell, Chair of the CESM TAC and profile event host, said “the mining industry, related consulting firms and our state legislators simply have no idea of the breadth and depth of mining-related environmental research going on at UA and they need to hear about CESM”.
The meeting opened with introductions by sponsors Steve Trussell, Executive Director of the Arizona Rock Products Association, and Kelly Norton, President of the Arizona Mining Association. UA SRP/CESM Director Raina Maier and Mary Poulton, Director of the IMR, provided overviews of the CESM and IMR. The UA SRP has been working with the CESM TAC to determine mining industry research needs in the areas of: 1) phytoremediation; 2) water monitoring and remediation; 3) dust monitoring and mitigation; and 4) community engagement/education. These topics formed the backbone of the Profile Event agenda, with presentations by UA SRP investigators Julie Neilson, Mark Brusseau, Trainee Michael Stovern, and Denise Moreno Ramírez, respectively. Following the presentations, the meeting participants broke into focus groups followed by a lively round-table discussion to try to achieve consensus on what key issues need to be addressed for each topic, how to improve academic/industry collaborations, and what types of knowledge, research, and support that our industry partners envision that CESM and the UA SRP could provide to them. The moderator provided green, yellow, and red flags for each participant to wave when an idea was put forth, as an indication of whether they agreed with pursuing it or not.
The presentations were well-received and the discussion was very fruitful. “I expected to come and hear about mining in far-off places,” said one participant, an engineer from the mining industry. “Instead, I learned about how the UA is working in Arizona communities and at Arizona mines to address questions of feasibility and technology.” He later added, “I think we’re having a great dialogue today, and this is a great forum to learn about these issues and how we can interact.”
Since the April 4 event, the UA SRP speakers have each been invited to reprise their presentations at consecutive monthly meetings of the Southern Arizona Mining Alliance in Tucson, AZ (stayed tuned for future updates on these events!)