Spanning the globe in mining
As a teenager growing up in a suburb of Cleveland, Richard Saccany recalls reading in the newspaper about an underground salt mine operating near the center of the city. With all the drilling and blasting, the operation fascinated him, and when it came time to choose a college, he selected a school where he could major in mining engineering. “I had a fairly basic motive,” he says. “I like digging in the dirt.”
That dream became a reality when Saccany, with his MBA in hand, landed his first job as a production analyst in the uranium industry in 1973 and progressed through the organization to become a superintendent of a uranium mine in New Mexico in 1978. Over the next 35 years, Saccany would manage mining operations, engineering, and construction projects for companies in the United States, Canada, Panama, Turkey, South Africa, Peru, and Mongolia.
“My career has been one giant adventure,” says Saccany, who has overseen the mining of gold in Alaska, copper and zinc in Turkey, and potash in Canada. His travels across the globe and his frequent visits to museums led Saccany to pursue a master’s degree in world history, which he received from the University of Denver in 1991.
For the past decade, Saccany has been stationed in Canada, most recently as the project manager for construction of a $900 million mining facility 100 miles southeast of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The province has 40 percent of the world’s proven and probable reserves of potash, which is converted into fertilizer after being cut from underground mines in a form similar to rock salt.
The project Saccany is supervising — the Jansen Mine — is expected to take six years to construct. When complete, the mine will produce 33 million tons of potash ore annually, says Saccany, a senior consultant for Stantec, the engineering, consulting, and design firm that is developing the hoist plants’ structural steel towers and loading systems, which will transport the mining crews 3,000 feet below ground to extract the ore.
Despite his long-term assignment in Canada, Saccany continues to make Denver his home, because, he says, the climate there allows him to ski and golf in the same weekend. Although his monthly commute is more than 1,000 miles, Saccany wouldn’t think of trading in his job. “I’ve never been bored,” he says. “I can honestly say I’ve never gotten out of bed in the morning and dreaded going to work.”