Last Updated: 1/5/2009 from 1997 Newsletter

Mike Schern

University prior to coming to ASU: Hanover College
Status at ASU: M.S., Geology, 1971

My family and myself

After doing an M.S. in economic geology, Mike worked as a mining geologist, working his way through Chief Geologist at Morenci to Executive Assistant to the General Manager of the Phelps Dodge (PD) Mining Co. That office has responsibility for all mining and smelting operations in N. America. “In 1992 my family and I moved to Littleton, Colorado (near Denver) to take on the position of Manager of Western Nuclear, Inc. (WNI), the uranium subsidiary of Phelps Dodge (during the uranium boom of the 60's and 70's, Western Nuclear was the third largest uranium producer in the U.S.). Now they are in the business of closing and reclaiming production facilities to extremely strict Nuclear Regulatory Commission guide-lines, making sure that they do an appropriate job. There are several sites in the west, but the big ones are in Wyoming and Washington, while the corporate office of WNI is in Lakewood, Colorado.

“In 1995 I was promoted to General Manager for WNI, and also became Manager of the Seven-Up Pete Joint Venture (SPJV) in Lincoln, Montana (the home of the Unabomber). We moved to a ‘cabin in the woods’ (with ~300 ponderosa pines) in Clancy (pop. ~100), south of the state capital, Helena. The current focus of SPJV is an 8.2 million ounce (contained) volcan-iclastic-hosted hot spring deposit. The deposit will be developed by open pit methods, mining about 175,000 tons per day. Mining will include 205,000,000 tons of ore and will produce 3.7 million ounces of gold and 8 million ounces of silver over the life of the mine. The deposit is a low-sulfur, oxide deposit and will use conventional cyanide heap leach technology. PD is going to great efforts to assure protection of the environment. An attractive feature is that Montana Tech. will receive royalties of ~$60 million over the 16-year mine life. They expect to employ 390 people and start actual mining by 1998.”

Kathy and Mike’s kids are all nearly grown. Jason (25), is married to Hye-In, and they have a 6-month old son Kevin Yung-Min (Mike’s a grandpa!). Jason attended the Air Force Academy for two years, spent two years in Korea on a church mission, and is now a senior at BYU, majoring in International Relations and Mechanical Engineering. Greg (21) finished one year at Eastern Arizona College, and one year at Colorado School of Mines and is currently on a mission in Brazil. He will attend BYU when he returns. Susan (19) is a Sophomore at the University of Northern Colorado, where she is majoring in music education. Her specialty is the French Horn. She spent the summer between her Junior and Senior years in Michigan at Interlochen Arts Academy, and has performed in Carnegie Hall. Kassiah (17), a Senior at Helena High School, is a varsity cheerleader, and performs in the Starlighters vocal ensemble, performing and competing at various events, so she stays quite busy.

Mike serves on the boards of the Montana Mining Association, the Western Environmental Trade Association, the Montana Community Foundation Gold Region, the Lincoln Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Lincoln Valley Community Fund. He is a member of SME, the Northwest Mining Association, the Uranium Producers of America, the Helena Rotary Club, the Helena Chamber of Commerce group called the ‘Hometown Helena Pride,’ and Boy Scouts and other youth interests. He also serves in various capacities in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Montana is not like Arizona. As I write this, it is about 10 below zero. Last night in Lincoln it was 29 below (F) and last winter it reached 47 below at our house. We get a lot of snow, and a lot of cold. We are due north of Phoenix, but northern locations experience weird effects on sun angle. Last Saturday I measured my shadow at high noon...it was 15 feet long...and I’m just a short guy. We have daylight savings in the summer, and it can still be daylight at 10:30 pm. That’s good. But in the winter, there are only about 9 hours of daylight ...if the sun even shines through the clouds... that’s bad. It can snow during any month of the year. The saying is that you really need to enjoy summer, all three days of it. Actually, even though the summers are short, they are incredible with the excellent weather and the long days it’s like living on the Mogollon Rim. Now that we are into our third winter (third for me, second for Kathy) we are getting used to it.”


7 * M Research Group at Arizona State University