Randy Seppala, 65, a career-long mining engineer, is the Operations and Maintenance Manager at Resolution Copper in Superior. During his tenure at Resolution, he’s overseen numerous projects, including sinking the Number 10 shaft. Today, he oversees surface and underground operations and maintenance with two huge responsibilities:
* Maintaining existing and developing new infrastructure
* Preparing the workforce for the future
After more than four decades in the field, Randy is still finding new challenges. In 2017, he helped start a 3-year apprenticeship program from scratch. Participants are full-time employees and receive both academic courses and hands-on experience. The first group complete their training in December of this year.
“How we develop people has changed a lot,” Randy says. “Jobs rely on technology more than ever, and we will need more skilled workers to fill such roles.”
A Mining Lineage: Randy Seppala
In 1976, Randy was the future workforce — a summer hire at the Old Magma Mine (now Resolution).
“As a summer hire, you did all the underground jobs,” he explains. “Essentially, it was supervisor training.”
Born in Deadwood, South Dakota, and raised by an uncle who capped his career as a federal mine inspector, Randy always knew mining was his direction.
“When you grow up in a mining town, that’s one of the options,” he says, “sometimes the only option.”
Randy got a full-ride scholarship from Magma and, in 1978, graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Mining Engineering. He accepted a full-time job in mining operations. Mining was booming at the time, but by the 1980s had tanked, and Randy moved to other states and abroad to find work. With a wife and a one-year-old son, he traveled to Indonesia and stayed a year, working for Freeport McMoRan. He’s been at Resolution for the past 15 years, with no plans to retire anytime soon.
“It’s been challenging,” Randy says, “but it’s been good to me, too. “
Randy’s son Bryan, now 33, was not pushed toward a career in mining. He earned a degree in business focusing on economic development, graduating in 2009, a year into the Great Recession. Not able to find a job in his field, he held onto his “college job” at Fry’s, became store manager and in 2014, found a position at Resolution in community relations.
Stakeholder Engagement : Bryan Seppala
“I was born and raised in Globe, moved back after college,” says Bryan. “I was able to carry the relationships and trust with those people into this community role.”
As a stakeholder engagement advisor, Bryan supports the communities in the Copper Triangle, listening to local people and looking for partnership opportunities that help communities reap the Resolution project’s benefits. The big goal is to develop economic sustainability and diversity, so when the 40-50-year life of a mine ends, the local communities continue to thrive.
“Our partnership to operate efforts includes many different pieces,” Bryan explains, “partnerships in education, cultural heritage, local employment, workforce development, land stewardship.”
Resolution Copper’s partnership with Globe Unified School District Robotics to promote STEM education is one of his ongoing success stories – preparing local students for the future’s good jobs. Like this one, multi-year beneficial partnerships are more robust, Bryan says; another one in the works is a multi-generation center planned for Superior.
“Every community is working on different projects, they have different focuses,” says Bryan. “My job is to key in on that and tie it back to what Resolution is trying to do.”
The Next Generation
Bryan is married with two young sons of his own.
“I would wholeheartedly support them if they wanted to pursue a career in mining,” says Bryan. “Mining is so diverse. It’s not just working underground. There’s many opportunities out there, in almost any career path.”
His three ½-year-old, he notes, is very interested in robotics.
A traveler, Patti Daley came to Globe in 2016 to face the heat, follow love, and find desert treasure. She writes in many formats and records travel scraps and other musings at daleywriting.com.