Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is Governor Brewer insulting Arizona's mining industry?

The photos show the life size mural of a mining haul truck that is currently on the north wall of the top rated Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum. The row of school buses in the second photo shows the scale of the mural.

A $20,000 grant from Komatsu, presented by their local dealer in Phoenix, financed the mural. Many grants from Arizona’s mining industry have made this very unique, historic, and educational museum possible. The museum began on the state fairgrounds before Arizona became a state, and is a long established part of Arizona’s mining heritage.

As indicated in her January presentation on the Arizona Centennial Museum, Governor Brewer plans to paint over this mural as the building is converted into the centennial museum. She also plans to remove the historic pieces of mining equipment (donated over decades by various Arizona mining companies) currently surrounding the building. Inside the building, floor space occupied by mining and mineral displays is to be reduced by over 80%.

The Governor plans a permanent 5C centennial museum featuring citrus, cotton, cattle, copper, and climate. However, the agricultural and ranching industries do not typify Arizona like mining does, and only the mining industry chose to support a museum. The first mineral museum building, built with mining company support, is shown in the third photo as it appeared in 1919.

Arizona is not known for its agricultural products or for ranching. Many other states out produce it in each of these areas. Florida is known for citrus, and Texas is known for ranching. Arizona is known for mining. Arizona has been and is the number one producer of non fuel mining products.

The Governors plan is an insult to Arizona’s mining industry. It diminishes its status as a vital and historic state industry, and it decimates the museum it voluntarily sponsored.

The insult is amplified by the corresponding 75% cut in the budget for the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources. This department, also supported by the mining industry, provides a vital service in maintaining extensive records on Arizona mineral resources. This service is invaluable for future mineral exploration.

The cut would be understandable if it were done to reduce spending in a budget crisis. However, it was not. All of the money and more was transferred to the Arizona Historical Society to support the Governors centennial museum project. The Governor is spending money to diminish the public perception of mining’s importance.

Governor Brewer does not respect the Arizona mining industry, and apparently does not understand Arizona unique mineral wealth.