South32’s Hermosa Project Announces Key Operational Milestones

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December 7, 2023


South32’s Hermosa project today announced a series of project developments that highlight our commitment to investing in and partnering with the community to bolster workforce development and community health transparency.

The announcement includes the formation of the South32 Hermosa Workforce Development Taskforce, hiring of public health experts to guide our Santa Cruz County community health assessment and outreach to local public health institutions, and a construction update on the main exploration shaft.

“We are designing the Hermosa project with state-of-the-art technology to be a safer, more sustainable, and more advanced mine. We are excited to share our progress as we work to reduce America’s reliance on foreign countries for critical minerals, while unlocking new economic opportunities for this community,” said Hermosa project President Pat Risner.

Supporting Workforce Development
The Hermosa project announced the formation of the South32 Hermosa Workforce Development Taskforce. The group’s main purpose is to identify the skills needed and local facilities available to help train, develop and expand the region’s workforce.

“The first step in helping transform the local economy is partnering with community members whose expertise and understanding of our region’s educational needs can help create opportunities, so that the next generation can stay in Santa Cruz County. This partnership will allow us to develop a clear, specific pathway for training local residents to fill the high-skilled, good-paying jobs Hermosa will bring to the region,” said South32 Human Resources Director for North America Skylie Estep.

The taskforce will begin meeting in 2024. Confirmed members include:
● Angelina Canto, Nogales Unified School District # 1 Superintendent
● Victoria Clark, Business Development Director, Pima Community College
● Skylie Estep, South32 Human Resources Director for North America
● Manuel Felix, AZ Cyber Initiative
● Naiz Garibay, South32 Project Supporter Coordinator
● Patrick Garretson South32 Study Manager
● Kenny Hayes, Patagonia Public Schools Superintendent
● Greg Lucero, Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Steering Committee
● Kari Middleton, Pima Community College
● Sandra Moraga, South32 Communities Specialist
● Stephanie Moreno, South32 Tribal Affairs Specialist
● Akmaral Muken, South32 Training and Learning Principal
● Irasema Olvera, Arizona @ Work
● Josh Rubin, Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority
● David Verdugo, Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 Superintendent
● Chris Young, Chief Deputy Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office

More information about how the Hermosa project is prioritizing local hiring can be found here.

Setting a New Standard for Safety & Sustainability
The Hermosa project has hired Ramboll, a global consulting firm with decades of experience conducting community health assessments in southern Arizona and across the United States, to guide South32’s Santa Cruz County baseline community health assessment and outreach to local public health institutions, including the University of Arizona.

A baseline assessment will help Hermosa limit exposure of manganese and other minerals. By understanding what already exists in the community and environment before operations begin, South32 can make sure health and safety controls are in place, better understand any changes over time, and ensure controls remain effective throughout the life of Hermosa.

“We know our families, friends and neighbors are counting on us to get this right. That’s why we are partnering with third-party public health organizations to regularly monitor and report findings to ensure transparency and accountability,” said Hermosa project Communities Principal Melanie Lawson.

Leading Ramboll’s efforts at the Hermosa project are:
● Rosalind Schoof, PhD, DABT, Fellow ATS (bio) – an internationally recognized expert and board-certified toxicologist with more than 35 years’ experience assessing human health effects and exposures from chemical substances in a variety of settings, including mines. She has extensive experience assessing potential risks from exposure to metals at mine and smelter sites in North and South America, including conducting community biomonitoring studies.
● Alma Feldpausch, MS, DABT (bio) – certified by the American Board of Toxicology, she has more than 25 years’ experience working in environmental health, human health risk assessment and community health, exposure assessment, risk communication, biomonitoring, bioavailability and environmental justice in communities where mining and smelting, refineries, and manufacturing occurs throughout North and South America.

More information about Hermosa’s commitment to sustainable mining can be found here.

Continuing Project Construction
In May, the Hermosa project began initial excavation for the main exploration shaft and the ventilation shaft to provide underground access to the zinc resource found at Hermosa, one of the world’s largest undeveloped resources of this federally designated critical mineral.

This month, Hermosa announced that construction pre-sink activities of both shafts remain on track. To date, we have excavated 50 of the planned 115 feet for the main exploration shaft and excavated 115 feet for a ventilation shaft. While total depth of the shafts is approximately 2,900 feet, achieving these construction milestones will allow for infrastructure needed for safe passage of people and vehicles underground.

“This construction demonstrates the continued progress of the Hermosa project toward delivering critical minerals to the market which would reduce America’s reliance on foreign countries and strengthen domestic supply of critical minerals. This advanced, underground mining method enables reduced surface impact and the amount of tailings resulting in a more sustainable mine,” said Hermosa project Vice President of Project Delivery Andy Thompson.

The US produces just 6% of the world’s zinc, used for things like battery storage, solar panels, and galvanization of wind turbines and other infrastructure. More information about this critical mineral can be found here.


About the South32 Hermosa project

Located in a historic mining district in the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona, South32’s Hermosa project is currently the only advanced mine development project in the United States that could produce two federally designated critical minerals—manganese and zinc—both of which are essential minerals for powering the nation’s clean energy future. Learn more at

Media Relations
Lina Betancourt
T +1 514-210-1822

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