The Department of Mines and Minerals, a state agency that’s been around since the 1930s, will shut down for good Friday due to a lack of funding, its director said.
Turning the mines and minerals department duties over to the state Geological Survey will save the state $220,000 a year, according to Gov. Jan Brewer’s executive budget summary. Brewer wants the duties moved when the new fiscal year begins in July.
After recent budget cuts the department, with its three employees and three contract workers, doesn’t have the money to remain in business until July, Director Madan Singh said.
“We would have needed supplemental funds to complete this fiscal year, and they’ve decided this is the time to close us down,” Singh told The Arizona Republic.
The people who will lose their jobs when the department closes include Singh, a mining engineer who conducts economic analyses of the industry, and a clerk who helps with data inquiries. The department also has three contract workers, including one who visits schools to talk about the economic benefits of mining in Arizona.
The move to downsize the Department of Mines and Mineral Resources began last summer when state lawmakers moved the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum from the department to the state Historical Society.
The department was created in 1939 to help Arizona promote mining. According to the governor’s executive budget summary, the department provided 410 customers with information about mines and minerals in 2010.
“The people that normally come to us are the smaller companies that don’t have a lot of information in their own files,” Singh said. “We tell them where some past deposits have been explored and help them dealing with various agencies like (the Department of Environmental Quality) and Water Resources.”