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Women in Mining: Wendy Stanfel

“It’s incredibly challenging. That’s why I love it.”

Resolution Copper Electrician Wendy Stanfel maintains critical electrical systems — oxygen and vibration sensors, water pumps, and ventilation — in the deepest single mine shaft in the country.

“It’s a viciously cruel environment, highly mineralized water,” she explains. “Things have to be maintained.”

When workers drop into the nearly 7,000 foot shaft, they are supported by several means of safety protection and seven forms of communication, including bells, lights, and a paging system. At 4,000 feet, 187-degree water seeps in from the walls of the shaft and there’s steam everywhere.

Day-to-day work: 

  • Conduct weekly and monthly checks of all electrical systems.
  • Maintain systems and troubleshoot problems.
  • Anticipate problems and fix them before they happen.

Role in the big picture?

Underground operations and maintenance is an important part of Resolution Copper’s mine shaft infrastructure. Wendy’s work is part of a larger effort to connect the historic Magma Mine #9 shaft with Resolution Copper’s #10 shaft. Once these shafts are connected, there will be additional ventilation, power, services and pumping systems as well as two independent ways to access and exit the underground mine. Resolution Copper can then gain more characterization of the ore body, which is critical to the future of the underground mine.

“Safety is the utmost priority.  The paperwork is insane,” explains Wendy, “You just have to accept it.  It’s there for a reason.”

What inspired you to pursue a career in mining?

“I always wanted to be an electrician,” says Wendy.    

She joined the navy at 17.  She became the youngest certified craftmaster on the west coast, yet envied the “clean work” of the electricians.  Over the next 20 years, she worked for the county of Ventura, ran a painting business, and worked as the tribal gaming inspector at the casino in San Carlos, where she strengthened her regulatory background, but saw no forward path.

A friend told her about the apprentice program at Resolution Copper. 

First mining job?


Wendy is one of the first wave of apprentices to be trained and employed by Resolution Copper  in Superior. 

“It’s one of the best environments I’ve ever worked in,” she says.

Wendy is proud of the company’s safety records and the 1,400 days her team has gone without a loss time incident.  Management is supportive, she says and sets the tone.

Recently, she responded to an opportunity to cross-train with the IT team, and is excited by the possibilities.  Electrical and electronic systems are increasingly interconnected. Computer networks have assumed an essential role in mining operations.


“Learn as much as I can,” Wendy says, “as long as I keep moving up and forward.”

Advice for women interested in a mining career today?

“It’s definitely a rough environment,” Wendy admits, but she encourages other women to stay true to themselves and confident.

“You belong there. You can do the same amount of work.” Wendy says.  “You have to feel that. Then other people can feel that too.”

  

Wendel Stanfel, 43, was born in Mesa, Arizona.  She now resides in Globe, with her wife, children and 14 grandchildren. Wendy enjoys camping, painting, drawing, working on cars, and building things.

 

This 12-part series launched by Globe Miami Times in July of 2019 features women in mining, and mining updates in the copper corridor.  It is made possible through the generous support of the following mining companies in our region. 

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