Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

Geology Home Page                   physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems           

Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Laurie Devere
Physical Geology
Spring 2012


John Devere- Mining Engineering

            My family has a rich history in mining in the United States and around the world.  My maternal grandfather spent 20 years in the Duval Mine in Sahuarita, Arizona.  My paternal, great uncle was a mining geologist in Philippines, Australia, Tucson, Colorado, California, Spain, Chili, and Holland.  My great, great, great grandfather came to Tombstone in 1879, from Leadville, Colorado, selling his invention to the miners called the “Japolin Whim”.  My great, great grandfather was an educated mining engineer who came to Tombstone in 1904, hired by the Tombstone Consolidated Mining Company, to sink the Grand Central Shaft.   Another great, great grandfather was a superintendent for the underground copper mine in Jerome, Arizona where he died as a result of injuries from an underground mine fire.  One of my great grandfathers worked underground in Tombstone during the depression.  Another great grandfather worked underground in Jerome at the same time.  Finally, my paternal grandfather earned his mining engineering degree from the University of Arizona and traveled to many different places around the world.  I am going to focus my paper on his career and travels. 

My grandfather, John Devere, tells me all the time that he had the greatest job in the world.  He was a mining engineer for many years and got to work all the United States, Indonesia, Canada,, and even in Africa.  His family and him were able to experience different parts of the United States while his kids were growing up.  My grandfather credits his varied experience throughout his life because he worked from the bottom to the top in the mining industry.  He started his career as a high school student and worked in the field for the next forty years.  His jobs varied from being a surveyor to chief engineer to starting up a new mine in Africa.   

John Devere started his career by working as an independent surveyor for the Bear Creek Mining Company in Gleeson, Arizona while in high school.   After high school, he decided to go to the University of Arizona where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mining Engineering.  While attending college, he gained experience through his summer jobs in Bisbee, Arizona, Coeurd’alene, Idaho, and Silver City, New Mexico.  He worked for well known companies called American Zinc, Phelps Dodge Mining Company, and Sunshine Mining Company.  He worked both open pit and underground mines.    Also, while still in college, he worked as a design engineer at Army Corp of Engineers, which was a step up from working in the mines.  After graduating from college, my grandfather got a job as junior engineer on the corporate staff at Cyprus Mines Corporation in Los Angles. While working out of the corporate office, he spent several months in the Yukon outside of Whitehorse developing a mine.  From there he was transferred to the Pima Mine in Sahuarita, Arizona to mine copper.  There is where he worked hard and moved up the chain slowly.  He started out as shift foreman. then to a drilling and blasting supervisor, to an assistant chief engineer. and after all his hard work, he became a chief engineer.  After working as a chief engineer at Pima Mine, he went to Midland Coal Company in Elmwood, Illinois.  At first, he took the job of chief engineer, then made a lateral move to mine superintendent, then was promoted to operations manager.   Once he was there for while, he decided that he wanted to go and work for Anamax Mining Company because he wanted to move back west and close to his family.  At Anamax, he was the mine manager at the Twin Buttes mine where copper was being mined. 

In the mid 1980’s, copper mines began to close around the country.  After five years at Anamac, John found himself unemployed and there was not a lot of availability for mining jobs unless you left the country.  With mining jobs in short supply, he took a huge business venture and borrowed money and opened up his own auto parts store.  After three years, he was made a great business offer to sell his store.  He took the offer because he missed the daily challenges running a mine offered.  He figured that his three kids were in college and independent, so he decided to try mining in a foreign country.  His first overseas adventure was in Indonesia to mine copper for Grasburg Mine which belonged to Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold Mining Company.  He spent about a year there when he got offered the job of a life time.  He was offered the job of staring up gold mine in Tarkwa Ghana for Teberebie Goldfields.  He was only contracted to work there for two years at first as a mine manager then to a general manager.  He loved the job so much that his two years stretched into eight years.  During those eight years, he was an important part in developing two different mine expansions.   He really enjoyed this job the most because he was in a new place, but also he got to start a new mine.  John feels like his experience here is a once in a lifetime one because most mining engineers don’t get the opportunity to start a mine from scratch. 

As John reflects back on his mining career, it had several ups and downs.  One of the major downs was that he missed his children and grandchildren.  At the time, only my sister, brother, and myself were born.  He missed out on the first eight years of my life.  He would make two trips home each year but felt he was missing out on more.  After he decided to return to the United States, jobs in mining at his level were hard to find so he had to find another career.  With his son and daughter-in-law in teaching, he decided to be a substitute teacher since the schools were always struggling to find subs.  He found the job rewarding and challenging.  Mining in Ghana opened new doors for him too.  The money he made and saved allowed him to invest his money.  He was able to build a house in Sierra Vista and a cabin in Nutrioso, Arizona.  Another “up” of working at a mine overseas was that he was given the opportunity to travel around the world.  He was even able to have his children come and visit him in Africa and Europe.  A down side of working far away is living in remote places with limited supplies and services.  Overall, his time overseas was very positive.  His mining career gave his family the opportunity to live in different places around the United States.  He enjoyed the opportunity to travel around the world.  He also enjoys that from his extra time working in Africa he was able to save and invest money so that he can help out his children and grandchildren with college expenses.

John Devere’s career in mining opened many doors for him and gave him a lifetime full of memorable experiences. 



Devere,  John T., and  Robert B. Devere. "John  Devere's  Mining  Career." Personal interview.  20 April 2012         .




Twin Buttes Mine – Anamax – Sahuarita, Arizona

Description: Aerial photo of Twin Buttes Copper Mine, Sahuarita, Arizona, AZ  United States

Tombstone, Arizona

Description: Tombstone in 1881

Teberebie Gold Mine in Ghana, Africa


Description: Site infrastructure at Tarkwa, Ghana

Freeport McMoran in Indonesia

Description: An aerial view of a giant mine run by U.S. firm Freeport-McMoran Cooper & Gold Inc. , at the Grassberg mining operation, in Indonesia's Papua province in this July 2005 file photo. A new Indonesian regulation that changes the rules on foreign ownership...