South32 selects Nogales location for Hermosa ROC

South32’s Hermosa project has announced that it would construct its remote operations centre (ROC) in Nogales, Arizona, USA, with the facility set to be named Centro.

Hermosa is, South32 says, currently the only advanced mining project in the US capable of producing two federally designated critical minerals – zinc and manganese.

The ROC location decision follows two years of extensive analysis and careful consideration of Hermosa’s county-wide planning and employment goals to retain the economic benefits of the project in the Santa Cruz County area, it says.

As part of the location announcement, the Hermosa project is also debuting a new name for the ROC: Centro, a name chosen by the community in an online vote that took place earlier this year.

Hermosa Project President, Pat Risner, said: “Locating Centro in Nogales enables us to help transform the Santa Cruz County economy, by creating and training local residents without prior mining experience to fill high-skilled, good-paying jobs so the next generation has more opportunities right here at home.”

The selected location, just off Interstate 19 near the Mariposa Industrial Park, is approximately 70 miles (113 km) south of Tucson and approximately 28 miles to the Hermosa mine site. The building location will reduce commuter traffic to and from the mine site, as well as help build out local roads and infrastructure in the surrounding area, South32 explained.

Designed as a commercial building with an office-like setting, Centro will accommodate employees and the automation technology needed to remotely monitor and operate some of the underground and surface equipment located at the mine site. Centro will host around 200 full-time employees over several shifts in a 24-hour period.

Centro will be part of a 9 acre (3.6 ha) complex that will also include an employee parking lot, a park & ride service area to take employees and contractors to our other sites, and a garden. Construction will begin by the end of 2024.

In addition to Centro in Nogales, the Hermosa project is assessing the potential to site additional buildings, operational and/or job training infrastructure throughout Santa Cruz County.

As the first mining project added to the federal government’s FAST-41 permitting process, the Hermosa project aims to put southern Arizona in the driver’s seat of the clean energy race, supplying two critical minerals needed for the expansion of clean energy technologies and associated infrastructure.

Back in February, South32’s board gave final investment approval to develop the Taylor deposit, part of the Hermosa project, saying it would cost some $2.16 billion based on feasibility study results.

It is a project that is set to apply ‘next generation mine’ design principles using automation and technology to drive efficiencies and lower operational greenhouse gas emissions. This includes a plan to incorporate battery-electric LHDs, drilling and ancillary fleets. This strategy, included in the feasibility study, results in improved efficiency, reduced diesel consumption and greenhouse emissions compared with the prefeasibility study on the project.