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SecondGenerationMiners: Gail Florez

 

Gail Florez is an administrator for the Surface Operations and Maintenance at Resolution Mine in Superior.  She has provided essential support to the mining operation since 2008, working in the environmental and safety departments prior to her current job.

“Surface is the busiest. It’s non-stop. I support a big team,” says Gail, “I started with Environment, so if they need anything from me, I’ll help them too.”

Summer of ‘80
Gail is the fifth of six children born to a ranching mother and a mining father. Following in the footsteps of four older siblings, Gail Florez did summer work at the Magma Mine. She was a key puncher in 1980 when a wildcat strike threatened operations. She and her office co-workers were sent to do graveyard shift work at the mill.

“They sent us out in the middle of summer — we had to rip open bags of lime and dump it in the vat,” she says. “It didn’t last too long. Two weeks or so.  It was rough.”

Her brother David Florez was a mill worker at the time; he stayed out for two weeks and then crossed the line to get back to work; like others, he needed a paycheck.

“I got threatened for crossing,” he recalls. “The wives were more vicious than the miners.” 

When Magma shut down two years later, David found work at other mines and Gail went to work in Superior town hall.  Then 9 years for the Central Arizona Governments (CAG). 

“If you’re hired to do something, do the best you can,”  Gail says those were the words of her father, a lifelong miner who valued honesty, education, hard work and family.  

 
Frank Florez (1928-2020) was a big tall man with a big booming voice. 

“I had to be better just to be equal, and have always to this day given it my all” — Frank Florez.  Aug. 8. 1981 letter to his sister. Photo courtesy of Florez Family

“They used to call him ‘the bear,’” says Gail.  “He could scare a lot of people, but he would see the good in people and try to help them. ‘Let me help you do your job great.’”

Frank began mining in 1954 as a mucker. From 1954-1972 he was a miner, 

junior engineer, transit man, level supervisor, planning engineer, chief mine engineer and assistant mine general foreman. He was part of the engineering team that sunk shaft #9 to 4800 feet. He climbed the ranks of management through the seventies and in 1981 landed the top spot, General Manager of Magma Mine in Superior.

“I’m so proud of him,” says Gail, ”to go from where he started to become General Manager responsible for 1200 employees.”

In 1982 Magma Mine closed. It was Frank’s job to let people go — most of them his community members. He continued working with a skeletal crew for 10 years, always believing in the future of the mine.

 

There’s still a lot of ore down there… it’s still one of the richest mines in the world,” he says in a 1989 Phoenix New Times interview. 

Family Legacy of Work & Play

Like his father, and two older brothers, David Florez also started in mining as a laborer and furthered his education. 

“Dad always pushed that,” he says, “Never stop learning. Always think about the next step.”

Today David is the Maintenance Supervisor in the Mill Concentrator and maintains the equipment in the processing of the copper ore.  In 1989 he was on the maintenance team that reinstalled the pumps and piping to dewater the shaft in 1989. His son Peter was a part of the crew that further sank the shaft from 4800 feet down to 6900 feet.   

When they were not at work or school, the Florez family enjoyed gatherings at the lake, cookouts in the wash, ranch visits and road trips to the valley. 

“It relaxed him, and for the kids it was fun,” says David.

Frank Florez died on July 8th at age 92.

 

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