Isabel Barton (courtesy of Isabel Barton)

Isabel Barton,

Assistant Professor of Mining and

Geological Engineering, UA

Wednesday, December 4, 2:30-4:30,

The Arizona Senior Academy Building 

Through geologic processes operating over millions of years, nature endowed the American West with unique deposits of metals, industrial minerals, fuel resources, and precious stones rarely found elsewhere. Making use of these natural resources has been fundamental to Arizona’s economic, social, and industrial life since pre-colonial times, and continues to be an important part of the state’s economy and the nation’s raw materials supply. Although many different minerals have been mined in Arizona over time, the principal commodities today are copper, molybdenum, precious metals, coal, and limestone.  At present, Arizona copper is used mainly for electrical wiring and electronic components; molybdenum is a key component in high-performance, corrosion-resistant steels. Arizona metals are traded globally and used in manufacturing all over the world. Isabel Barton will give us an overview of mining and the importance of mining to the Arizona economy, both historically and at present; in addition, she will delve into some of the current ecological concerns about mining.

Recent figures show 380 mines active or under advanced development in Arizona. Direct economic impact to the state consists of nearly 10,000 jobs and direct output value of $5.9 billion. In addition, the state contains thousands of relic mines from its multi-century history of mining. 

 For all its importance to us, mining is a resource-intensive industry, requiring lots of water, power, and land. The numerous legacy issues related to Arizona’s mining history include soil contamination, air and water quality, water resource depletion, and open shafts and pits. Some of these are still concerns about mines currently operating, which undergo rigorous permitting, remediation, and monitoring programs in order to mitigate environmental impacts. 

Isabel Barton is Assistant Professor of Mining and Geological Engineering at the University of Arizona. She works with academic and industry metallurgists, geologists, mine engineers, mineralogists, and geotechnical engineers, as well as with archaeologists and geochemists. Her research interests include ore and deposit characterization methods; process mineralogy; extractive metallurgy; modeling chemical systems; and the history of mining, metallurgy, and geology. Dr. Barton earned an M.S. in Mining Engineering, an M.S. in Geosciences, and a Ph.D. in Geosciences at the University of Arizona.

Written by Carol and Donald Gilzinger, Academy Village Volunteers

Dec. 4: Mining in Southern Arizona