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The Henry G. "Hank" Grundstedt San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory has been operated by the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering since 1958 and owned since 1975. We have 90 acres, underground workings to a depth of 250 feet on 4 levels. It is the only mining laboratory with a working vertical shaft in the U.S. We have decline, adit, and hoist access to the underground. Our hoist is one of the most sophisticated research hoists in the U.S.
The San Xavier (SX) Underground Mining Laboratory is located in the historic Pima Mining District, approximately 23 miles south of Tucson, Arizona. Founded in 1880 by the San Xavier Mining and Smelting Company, the mine was operated continuously until 1918. In 1943, Eagle-Picher Mining Company purchased the property and placed it into production. Operations were curtailed in 1952 due to low metal prices.
In 1958 the mine workings surrounding the Number 6 Shaft were leased to the U of A for educational purposes. In 1975, the Anamax Mining Company donated the Number 6 Shaft to the University. Since 1975, the Department of Mining and Geological Engineering has constructed two shop buildings and a head frame as part of the surface plant facilities.
The facility is used to compliment courses in both mining and geological engineering through semester projects and laboratory exercises. Students also normally work one 8-hour shift per week, where they participate in activities associated with mine development, unit operations, and maintenance. Students are given the opportunity to develop hands-on experience and problem-solving skills as well as exposure to some of the latest technical advances in mining and excavation.
The SX Mine serves as a training and research resource utilized by federal and state agencies as well as organizations devoted to underground research, tunnel safety, and mine rescue. One of the most exciting of these activities is the establishment of a cooperative health and safety training program for underground construction and tunneling workers between the U of A, Mining and Geological Engineering Department and Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA).
Since July 2000, over 300 miners from 7 states have participated in this training program, where demand for this course is exceeding the current capacity of the laboratory infrastructure. Work to expand the laboratory facilities to accommodate more training sessions and research opportunities is on going.
The San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory is a unique teaching and research facility. It is also used as a training resource by federal and state agencies as well as organizations devoted to underground research, tunnel safety, and mine rescue. Tours and community activities are also conducted to educate the general public on the importance of the mineral and construction industries.