MIDVALE — Charli Jeltema and her husband, Brett, couldn't wait to pack up and leave Arizona this summer for their new jobs at the just-opened FLSmidth Global Minerals Technology Research Center.
Charli Jeltema, 31, is a metallurgical engineer whose work involves creating flow sheets that show the best way to connect mining equipment that crushes raw ore into smaller and smaller pieces until the valuable materials, such as copper, gold, lead or zinc, can be removed. Brett Jeltema, meanwhile, works in the company's separations lab.
FLSmidth, a global player in the minerals processing industry that is headquartered in Denmark, on Wednesday opened its new technology center in the View72 Corporate Center, at 7200 S. 1100 West, in Midvale.
The opening, attended by many of the 400 employees who will work there and several local dignitaries, contained a certain irony.
The location was once the site of a gigantic smelting and tailings area that landed on the Superfund list and needed to be cleansed before it could be considered safe. Meanwhile, FLSmidth is a leader in devising new ways to make a cleaner and more environmentally friendly activity. And the building itself features many eco-friendly characteristics and is the biggest LEED-certified office park in Utah.
For Charli Jeltema, the whole idea seems fitting that a once-troubled site now houses a business that is keenly aware of environmental concerns — and it occupies a new building that, in its structure and operation, reflects that concern.
"It's kind of closing a circle," she said. "It's great to see."
The industry has been evolving and moving away from the dirty and land-destroying activity that many people picture in their minds when they hear the word "mining."
Jeltema said the development of new equipment has resulted in such things as recycling waste products at a mining site, while more comprehensive reclamation efforts have resulted in certain types of grasses being planted in areas that were once mined so cattle can graze there and the areas can become habitats for migratory birds.
FLSmidth operates in 40 countries throughout the world and recently consolidated all its Utah activities into its new building, which will house engineers, technicians, support staff and other workers.
Peter Flanagan, FLSmidth's vice president of minerals processing and the Americas, said corporate employees have come to work here from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and California, as well as such countries as Germany, Brazil, India and Finland. "We do owe them a thanks for packing up their families and moving here," Flanagan said, promising that their efforts will be worthwhile.
Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, said the new venture exemplifies "what is great about Utah."
A company is taking a chance with a new building and new operation in Utah, and Eccles said it is due in large part to the partnerships that exist here that link cities, counties, the University of Utah and private sector operations.
"It really is what I call our 'secret sauce,'" Eccles said. "In Utah, we get along and we work together. We believe in the future and we do it for our children."
He said the state last year increased its trade with Europe by $300 million.
"That says something about Utah and its vibrancy. Some states have sold their state capitals for a one-time gain," but Eccles said that will not be necessary here because private firms and government agencies are working together to build a thriving economy.
"We stand at the beginning of a great future with FLSmidth and Utah in it together," Eccles said.
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