Mining family donates more than $2 million to expand UArizona mining school

The University of Arizona’s highly-ranked mining engineering and mineral resources program received a $2 million donation that could grow into millions more to upgrade facilities and set the stage for a new interdisciplinary mining school.

The donation comes from two alumni who are members of the Lundin family that owns the Canadian-based Lundin Group, a global metals empire of 14 publicly traded companies that operate in more than 25 countries.

In addition to the initial $2 million gift, the Lundins are adding a $2.5 million challenge grant to match funds raised by December 2022. The funds are helping the university upgrade research and teaching facilities including the San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory, provide financial support to students, and seed plans to grow a new interdisciplinary school of mining engineering and mineral resources. 

Goal to be “No. 1 mining school in the world” 

Creating the “best mineral resource program in the world” is the goal, said Jack Lundin, president and CEO of Lundin Group’s Bluestone Resources Inc. 

“While most universities’ mineral resources programs are shrinking or not keeping pace with change, the University of Arizona has demonstrated a vision and commitment to enhancing natural resources education,” said Lundin, who earned his master’s degree in mining, geological and geophysical engineering from the university and serves on the board of the university’s Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources. 

Filling industry pipeline with highly-skilled pros

The interdisciplinary approach will prepare students for a new generation of mining professionals who have expertise from different educational disciplines and specialities including finance, law, computer science, environment, and social sciences.

“The drive toward a safer, more sustainable and efficient mining operation requires the very best talent across many disciplines, not just mining engineering and geology,” Lundin said. 

To that end, the university’s College of Engineering, College of Science, and Lowell Institute are sharing the gift to work together to develop the interdisciplinary curriculum. 

Ramp up partnerships and academic specialties 

The gift will also be used to build partnerships with industry and other universities and strengthen the department’s focus in areas like data science and artificial intelligence.

An infusion of funding will give the university more resources to focus on the future of the planet, said Mary Poulton co-director of the Lowell Institute.

“Mining is more critical than ever as we look toward a more sustainable future for our planet. Mined materials like copper are needed for electric vehicles, windmills and server farms for cloud-based applications,” she said.

A boost to economic geology program 

The gift will also fund the Lundin Family Endowed Chair in Economic Geology within the Department of Geosciences.

The establishment of the chair is meant to strengthen the university’s economic geology program, which is designed to apply geological research to expand knowledge and understanding of the distribution of minerals, university officials said. 

High rankings in mining and geosciences 

UArizona is home to one of only 13 mining engineering programs in the nation sanctioned by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. 

The mining engineering program is ranked No. 3 in the United States by the QS World University Rankings and No. 19 in the world. The geosciences graduate program is ranked No. 3 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Arizona’s mining legacy  

In 1885, the university opened with two areas of study: mining and agriculture. Arizona’s mining legacy had begun years before, reaching back to the heyday of Tombstone and the O.K. Corral. 

By 2018, the industry was pumping $6.5 billion into the state’s annual economy. Prior to the coronavirus, Arizona was the number one producer of copper and the second largest mine producing state. 

This offers an important advantage for students, Poulton said.

“Our location amid some of the largest copper deposits on Earth, world-class faculty members and long-standing relationships with industry mean the University of Arizona has what it takes to lead. This gift will help us take our efforts to the next level.” 

For more information or to donate to the matching challenge fundraiser, contact Lowell Institute Program Manager Jodi Banta at: jhbanta@arizona.edu

Victoria Harker

1 comment

  • This is fantastic news for one of the premier industries in Arizona. The UofA mining program staff are second to none and will make amazing things happen with this exceedingly gracious gift.

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