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Vicki Seppala

General Manager, Climax Mine

Freeport-McMoRan Inc.

2019 Medal of Merit Recipient

Non-traditional was a label used to describe Vicki Seppala when she returned to college.  Returning to university after working in another industry was difficult but a path desired in her quest for a better life for herself and young son.  It was just a Mine and Geological Engineering recruiting brochure on the science wall at Glendale Community College, but it caught her eye and Seppala soon found herself moving to Tucson with her fourth grade son and enrolling in the University of Arizona Geological Engineering program where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree.   She received scholastic scholarships each year and graduated with honors; she also was chosen the 1994 Outstanding Senior for the College of Engineering and Mines.

After graduation, although the industry was in a down cycle, Seppala was hired as a Geological Engineer with the Phelps Dodge Sierrita mine (now Freeport-McMoRan Inc.).  Her leadership skills and enthusiasm of new challenges propelled Seppala into operational roles of increasing responsibility rapidly rising to Mine Operations & Maintenance Superintendent.  In 2003 she was promoted to Mine Technology Manager responsible for investigating, developing, and introducing new/existing technology to Freeport’s copper mines in North and South America.

In 2006 Seppala was promoted to Mine Manager at Freeport’s Candelaria operation near Copiapo, Chile, becoming the first woman Mine Manager in Chile. The Mining Industry in Chile was rapidly changing with respect to women in nontraditional roles at that time, and Seppala became a part of that change.  She helped introduce women haul truck drivers at the Candelaria operation.

After 4 ½ years in Chile, Seppala transferred back to the United States landing at Morenci as the Mine Manager, Fragmentation & Loading and subsequently the Mine Engineering Manager.  In 2014 she was appointed Director, Corporate Safety responsible for planning, directing and leading the implementation of safety programs and policies for Freeport-McMoRan Americas.

In July 2018, Seppala was promoted to General Manager of the Climax Molybdenum Mine near Leadville, Colorado.

Born in Rogers, Arkansas, Seppala graduated high school in Glendale, Arizona.  Away from work Seppala cherishes time spent with her son, Clay Seppala, his wife, LeAna, and their three daughters, Gwen, Charlotte and Rachel.  Seppala thrives on adventure through work, travel and outdoor activities.

Seppala has spent her entire mining career at Freeport, is an active SME Member, sits on the Board of Directors of the Lowell Institute of Mineral Resources, and engages with many Women in Mining groups.





Victoria Peacey

Senior Manager Permitting and Approvals

Resolution Copper

2019 Medal of Merit Recipient

Born in Montreal, Canada, Vicky comes from a mining family- her father, sister, brother-in-law and her husband are all miners. She attended the University of Western Ontario where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Geoscience and a Master of Science Degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering.

Peacey has been with Resolution Copper since 2010 where she is presently the Senior Manager Permitting and Approvals and manages all federal, state and local agency approvals, agreements and permits and makes sure that the company is sensitive to the environment and cultural heritage during the planning process and that the mine will be operated in a way that preserves and protects the natural surroundings.

Peacey joined Rio Tinto in 2002 as a Senior Environmental Engineer at Kennecott’s Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah where she successfully designed and implemented a strategy to obtain multiple state permits for a major expansion of the Bingham Canyon Mine open pit, concentrator and tailings. This work included completion of all baseline data collection and impact assessments for groundwater, geochemistry, surface water and air as well as closure and reclamation.

In 2007 Peacey attended an intensive 4 week course at the London School of Business and Finance and participated in the Emerging Leaders Program.

She then moved to Marquette, Michigan in 2008  as Manager Environmental Affairs and Permitting for Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Eagle Minerals where she developed and implemented a strategy to successfully obtain all Federal, State and County permits and approvals for a $400 million underground mine, concentrator and tailings facility.  Production commenced in September 2014 ahead of schedule and on budget.

Peacey lives in Gold Canyon, Arizona with her husband and three children.

Peacey is on the Board of the American Exploration & Mining Association.  She has been active with the Boyce Thomas Arboretum and has participated as a fundraiser for the Phoenix Indian Center.





Cody Sutherlin

Vice President, U. S. Operations

Coeur Mining, Inc.

2019 Medal of Merit Under 40 Recipient

Cody Sutherlin holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mining Engineering from the Montana School of Mines and Engineering. After graduating, Sutherlin began his career with Rio Tinto Minerals in 2007 and held both technical and operational roles in the company’s Talc and Borate product groups. In 2012, Sutherlin joined Rio Tinto’s Kennecott Copper Operation in Salt Lake City, UT as a superintendent of mine planning.

On April 10, 2013, a towering wall of dirt and rocks gave way and crashed down the side of the Bingham Canyon Mine, which was described as one of the biggest non-volcanic landslides in North America’s modern history. Sutherlin worked with the mine technical team to develop a plan to recover from this massive slide, and a few weeks after the slide he was promoted to manage the entire remediation effort. 

This was a massive job that was one of the most difficult in the mining industry. Sutherlin quickly assembled a high-performance team that was successful in the remediation effort, and was able to do so faster than anyone thought possible.  The speed at which the remediation work was accomplished meant that the mine could return to full operations sooner than the original schedule, which prevented large-scale impacts to the operation and its employees. And most importantly the remediation team did all of the work safely.  At the time he was only 29 years old.  The mine is now back to normal operations mining hundreds of millions of tons per year and producing nearly 300,000 tons of copper annually.

Subsequently, in late 2015 Sutherlin was named General Manager, Site Infrastructure and Services, for Oyu Tolgoi LLC.  Oyu Tolgoi is a copper-gold mine in the South Gobi region of Mongolia which is managed and operated by Rio Tinto.   Sutherlin was responsible for logistics, electrical services, mechanical services, construction and engineering, heating, water utilities, and camp and site services.

In 2018, he went to Newmont Goldcorp in Elko, Nevada as General Manager of Surface Mining. Recently, he moved to Chicago as the Vice President of US Operations for Coeur Mining, Inc. Sutherlin continues to bring a strong commitment to safety and enjoys developing solutions to complex challenges. 

Sutherlin grew up on his family’s ranch in Stevensville, MT where he learned a solid work ethic and the ability to persevere. Cody attributes a lot of his success to what he learned on the family ranch. Cody and his wife Mindy have a young boy named Tripp and they enjoy getting to spend time together with family and friends.




William Sircy

General Manager, Processing, Cerro Verde

Freeport-McMoRan

2019 Medal of Merit Under 40 Recipient

William Sircy earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Arizona.  While in University, Sircy worked as a summer intern at Freeport-McMoRan’s Hydrometallurgical facility in Morenci, becoming the 5th generation of his family to work at Morenci.  Upon graduation he was hired as a FMI plant metallurgist in the Bagdad SXEW facility where he helped commission the Concentrate Leach Demonstration Plant and worked with industry experts and helped in the development of the first stable commercial alternative anodes for the electrowinning of copper in a sulfate solution.

In 2005, Sircy moved back to Morenci as a Quality Analyst. Over the next 4 years he held a variety of positions and authored a paper, “Morenci Hydrometallurgical Process Improvements – Application of Six Sigma in Process Improvements” which he presented at the 2007 6th International Conference of Metallurgists CU. Sircy is also co-inventor on a FMI patent that describes a method to minimize solvent extraction interfacial shear and reduce organic entrainment.

Sircy transferred to Safford in 2009 as the SXEW Superintendent where he successfully led the design, installation and operation of a solvent extraction mix box capable of withstanding high internal forces. 2011 found Sircy back in Morenci as the Crushing and Conveying Manager.  He oversaw the increase in primary crusher throughput from 119,000 tons per day to almost 200,000 and was instrumental in the design of the SW Mine for Leach (MFL) crushed leach stockpile which replaced the Stargo MFL system.

His next stop was in South America where he spent a little over 2 years in Chile at the El Abra operation as the Processing Manager and most recently in Peru at Cerro Verde. Sircy currently serves as the General Manager Processing.

Sircy speaks Spanish and is a member of SME.

Sircy and his wife Nicole have 3 children ages 4, 9, and 16.  Outside of work Sircy is passionate about cars, golf, photography, and travel.


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