2021 Lifetime Achievement Award
When I was asked to write a review of the history of Mary Korpi, the 2021 recipient of the NVMPD award, I had to ask myself “why me”. In that, I echoed Mary’s response when she first heard about being chosen for the award. Perhaps the reason I was asked to write this is that I am perhaps the person who has known her the longest in this particular group, as I have known her professionally since 1980 as my first job in the mining industry was working for her at Magma Copper in San Manuel.
Mary Korpi is a graduate of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, with a degree in chemical engineering, Mary began working for Newmont Mining Corporation in 1976 at Magma Copper Company in San Manuel, Arizona. She held various positions in the metallurgical services department including shift supervisor, quality control analyst, metallurgist, and senior metallurgist of customer relations. She transferred to Newmont’s Nevada operations in 1987 and served in a variety of capacities for Newmont, including Director of Metallurgical Services, Director of Loss Control, Leach and Mill Superintendent, and over the final years of her career, as Director of External Relations and Communications for North America. In this role, she oversaw Newmont Mining Corporation’s North American regional activities in issues management, local government, media management, community relations and development, external communications, and minerals education. Mary retired from Newmont Mining Corporation in January 2016 after almost four decades in the mining industry.
Mary has continued her involvement and support of the industry through volunteer boards and commissions. She is currently the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration’s (SME) Foundation’s Past President having served as the 2019-2021 President where she lead the Foundation in its mission to be the source of funding for education and outreach to SME and the community it serves. She was also appointed by previous Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to State of Nevada’s Commission on Mineral Resources for a 2017-2021 term. The Commission reports to the Governor of Nevada, the Mining Oversight and Accountability Commission, and the Nevada Legislature on all matters deemed pertinent to the Division of Mineral Resources and adopts regulations necessary for carrying out the duties of the Commission. She represents the public at large on the Commission and currently serves as vice chairman. Mary was also recently appointed to the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum Board of Governors for a 2021-2024 term. Mary was recognized in 2016 as the Distinguished Nevadan for her profound and lasting impact on the lives of all Nevadans. She has been inducted into Michigan Technological University’s Presidential Council of Alumnae and the Nevada Women’s Fund Women of Achievement. Mary has served in leadership roles on numerous non-profit and community-based organizations in Northeastern Nevada such as the Northeastern Nevada Economic Development Authority, Elko Area Chamber of Commerce, and Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital. She is also a member of several professional organizations including Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, The Mining and Metallurgical Society of America, Women’s Mining Coalition, Geological Society of Nevada, and the American Association of University Women.
Yet all this does not really indicate why Mary should receive this rather unique award from the NVMPD. This is where my personal knowledge comes in play. Mary is unique in that throughout her career she has fought for the individual, the industry, and the company she worked for. If one looks back through the above with that in mind, we can see that her support for SME, her membership and support in so many different groups that support individual miners, and lastly her long and successful career working for one company, through thick and thin, clearly indicates this. How many of us, through the years, have dealt with Mary and fully realized what she did behind the scenes. But I think her statement when she was informed of the award, “why me”, truly indicates why she truly deserves the reward, and encapsulates the best of Mary. Considering all she has done for people and institutions over the years, she still doesn’t really think that all of what she did was that important, or that special.
- Jack Waldron