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SME eNews - View Past Issue  

SME eNews
MPD students — check out this great Annual Meeting opportunity!
Going to the Annual Meeting? Doing undergraduate or graduate work in minerals processing? Have we got the deal for you! Enter the Minerals Processing Division (MPD) student poster contest by January 16 and attend the MPD luncheon for free (Annual Meeting Registration charges still apply). Prizes are $1000, $500 and $300 for first, second and third place in each category (graduate and undergraduate). All compliant poster entry authors will be treated to lunch at the MPD luncheon, a complimentary online subscription to SME's premier peer-reviewed journal, Minerals & Metallurgical Processing, and either a cash prize or $100. View more details at, or contact Tessa Baxter for more information ( or 303-948-4208).

2012 SME Annual Meeting
Registration for the 2012 SME Annual Meeting is now open. SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit: Seattle, Washington, February 19-22, 2012.

Click here and join us in Seattle!
Take a mine trip to beautiful, scenic Alaska!
The Pebble Partnership has again donated a trip for four to the SMEF Silent Auction. Look at pics and info from last year’s trip and get ready to bid on this at the 2012 annual meeting.

Mentors needed for the 2012 SME Annual Meeting

In order to be properly matched with a Mentor or Student, it is imperative that applications are received by January 20, 2012. Whether you are a seasoned SME Annual Meeting veteran or a first timer, you have the opportunity to affect the future of SME by participating as a mentor in this year's SME Annual Meeting Mentor Program. Mentors can be instrumental in helping students to begin developing a network in the industry by showing students the "ropes" and introducing them to colleagues. This is a marvelous opportunity to have a real impact in the society at a personal level. Students requesting mentors will be matched with mentor volunteers, based on information drawn from the Mentor Form. Both Mentors and Students will be notified before the 2012 Annual Meeting. Don't miss your chance to be a valuable resource to our student members - SME's future leaders. To volunteer or request further information for the Mentor Program, contact Mona Vandervoort at, or phone 303-948-4227. To sign up online go to: or you can sign up when you register for the annual meeting.

Time is running out!

Have you entered the SME Photo Contest yet? This year's theme is "People in Mining." The deadline is approaching fast, so send us photos of yourself or your colleagues hard at work and we'll share the winning images online and in the Exhibit Hall of the 2012 SME Annual Meeting in Seattle.
Submission deadline is December 31, 2011.

Mentor Program - Student Interest Form 2012
In order to be matched with a Mentor or Student with similar interests it is imperative that applications are received by January 20, 2012! SME is looking forward to providing student members with mentors at the SME Annual Meeting in 2012. Given the favorable feedback from the students and veteran members alike, SME is once again making this mentoring program available to all students who wish to participate during the 2012 Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. The programs' goals are to give students a deeper understanding of the activities, opportunities, and networking available at the Annual Meetings, and give veteran SME members a better perspective of the wants and needs of our younger membership. Students planning to attend the Annual Meeting who wish to take advantage of the mentoring program should complete the Student Interest form online at: Students will then be paired with member volunteers based on shared common interests and will be notified before the 2012 annual meeting. You can apply for a Mentor when you register for the Annual Meeting. Make sure you follow the link to the Mentor and Mentee Applications and complete the application process. Your application will then be sent to Mona Vandervoort at headquarters. We are looking forward to seeing you in Seattle, WA at the 2012 SME Annual Meeting.

Call for papers - Minerals & Metallurgical Processing

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing has put out a call for papers for its Advanced Sustainable Iron and Steel Making special issue (February 2013). This is a great chance to become part of SME’s premier peer-reviewed quarterly journal. The deadline to submit is June 30, 2012.

Come browse the latest issue of Minerals & Metallurgical Processing—titles and abstracts are available to everyone. All first-time subscribers to M&MP will receive five issues for the price of one subscription if they subscribe by December 31, 2011. A great opportunity!

2012 North American Tunneling Conference (NAT) scholarship offer
The North American Tunneling 2012 Conference (NAT 2012) is conducting a student scholarship competition open to all full-time undergraduate or graduate engineering students in North America. Entrants are invited to submit an original paper related to any aspect of tunneling or underground infrastructure. The top three authors will receive admission to the 2012 NAT Conference (June 24-27, 2012), including flight and accommodations. The authors will present their papers at the conference breakfast. In addition, the winners will receive $2,000 each. Submit your abstract with bio by January 15, 2012. Final papers due April 30, 2012. Please submit papers to: Brett Zernich, (323) 633 0607; E-mail: Additional information can be found at:

New to the SME Bookshelf
Remote Sensing of the Mine Environment

A guide for students and professionals, this book covers the basic principles of remote sensing and its applications in mine environment monitoring.
Remote Sensing of the Mine Environment
Mining & Rock Construction Technology Desk Reference
A comprehensive and illustrated desk reference with terms, definitions, explanations, abbreviations, trade names, quantifications, units and symbols used in rock mechanics, drilling and blasting.
Mining & Rock Construction Technology Desk Reference

Underwater Mining Institute seeks presentations for 2012 conference
Prospective presentations should focus on the conference theme: Marine Minerals: Finding the Right Balance of Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection. The 2012 Underwater Mining Institute will be hosted by Tongji University in Shanghai, China, October 15-21, 2012. Please direct any questions to the Conference Coordinator, Ms. Karynne Morgan at

Nominate your colleagues in the tunneling & underground industry for a UCA award
The Underground Construction Association of SME administers and presents four recognition awards for outstanding individual and group achievements in the tunneling and underground construction industries. These awards and their recipients represent the highest levels of commitment and expertise that have come to symbolize the vitality of UCA of SME as a professional society.

Click any of the awards below for more information: Guidelines and nomination forms are available on the UCA of SME website (
Please submit your nominations by January 3, 2012 to Mary O'Shea at

Contribute to the Vernon F. Swanson Endowment
“Paying it forward” to help impassioned engineering students was Vernon (Fred) Swanson’s desire. Swanson passed away in 2010. His family is committed to living out his vision of helping students continue their education and establish funds to annually award to CSM students. This endowment is fully endorsed by the Extractive Metallurgy Chapter of Denver and supported by Swanson’s colleagues. Swanson’s dedication to cultivate young engineers to realize their full potential was a constant passion throughout his life. In this ever-changing economic climate, the Swanson Family wants to ensure that his dedication and passion continue. Please consider contributing to this tax-deductible scholarship fund through February 2012 by sending your donation to The Vernon F. Swanson Memorial Scholarship Fund, Colorado School of Mines Foundation, Inc., 1600 Arapahoe Street, Golden, Colorado 80401. Please feel free to contact Kim Spratt in the Gift Planning Department at the address above or at

Washington Updates

Democrats introduce bill imposing mining royalty and AML fees

On November 16, Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rush Holt (D-N.J.) introduced legislation that would raise roughly $19 billion over the next 10 years to reduce the U.S. budget deficit by ensuring oil, gas and mining companies are paying royalties and other fees to use public lands. The bill, called the “Fair Payment for Energy and Mineral Production on Public Lands Act,” closes what it calls loopholes that currently allow oil, gas and mining companies to drill and mine resources for free on public lands.

With regard to the General Mining Law of 1872, this legislation would impose a royalty of 12.5 percent on gold, silver, uranium and other locatable minerals - the same royalty that is paid for extracting coal, oil and natural gas from public land. The legislation estimates this will raise at least $3 billion over the next 10 years. The bill also addresses abandoned mine land reclamation and purports to reform and modernize the cleanup of hardrock abandoned mine lands and could also generate over $3 billion over the next 10 years. The bill would institute a 7-cent per ton reclamation fee for all material that is displaced during hardrock mining operations. The bill would also establish an abandoned mine cleanup fund that would distribute funds to clean up the highest priority hardrock AMLs around the nation, thereby reducing discretionary spending to cleanup abandoned mines. This section would also end mandatory payments to States that have completed their coal AML reclamation activities as mandated by SMCRA.

House Members confront MSHA about inconsistent enforcement of aggregates operations

Two bipartisan letters were sent by House lawmakers to MSHA Administrator Joe Main expressing concerns over MSHA enforcement of aggregates operations and to elicit information addressing questions concerning the agency’s inconsistent enforcement that impedes aggregates operators’ work on behalf of safety and health.

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) drafted a Nov 18 letter (pdf) to Main expressing concern about the agency’s inconsistent and ineffective enforcement practices, urging that additional resources be provided for compliance assistance so that stone, sand and gravel producers can more readily comply with standards. The letter also calls for MSHA’s Small Mine Office to be maintained with its traditional structure, and that the state grants program be fully-funded.

In a separate Nov 21 letter (pdf), Reps. Robert Hurt (R-VA) and David Roe (R-TN) express similar concerns and request responses to specific questions regarding training of MSHA inspectors and the agency’s criteria for assessment of civil penalties.

Shuler’s letter had eight cosigners, while the Hurt/Roe letter garnered 16 and, proving the bipartisan nature of this issue, Shuler and Hurt signed each other’s letters. Given the degree to which aggregate operators have communicated their frustrations on these matters to members of Congress, it is not surprising that members are formally asking MSHA representatives for responses to the expressed concerns. This effort is roughly parallel to an effort being undertaken in the Senate to obtain clear answers from MSHA about the agency’s enforcement regime.

MSHA Updates

Twenty-four mines subject to MSHA’s potential pattern of violations

On November 30, MSHA announced that eight mines around the country have received letters putting them on notice that each has a Potential Pattern of Violations (PPOV) of mandatory health or safety standards under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. That brings the total number of mines receiving either a Pattern of Violations or Potential Pattern of Violations notice to 24 in the last 12 month period.

The PPOV screening from which these mines’ notices were issued represents the second time MSHA has used their new PPOV screening tool since the current criteria and procedures were established in September 2010. MSHA’s Pattern of Violations Single Source Page includes an online monthly monitoring tool for pattern of violations where a mine operator can input a mine ID and to determine, based on the most recent data available, how a specific mine matches up with the initial screening criteria for a potential pattern of violations. The initial screening criteria (pdf) are based on enforcement data that are refreshed monthly.

The Mine Act provides for enhanced enforcement at mines that exhibit a pattern of violations of significant and substantial (S&S) health or safety violations. MSHA regulations provide that the agency screen for PPOV mines at least once a year. Mines that receive PPOV notices have the opportunity to implement corrective action programs, and they must reduce their S&S rates to targets set by the agency. Mine operators that do not meet these targets are subject to a notice for a pattern of violations and closure orders for all S&S violations under Section 104(e). MSHA encourages mine operators to implement corrective action programs with long-term goals for reducing violations beyond the goals established by MSHA under the POV procedures. For more information go to

MSHA issues program information bulletins for underground electrical hazards

On November 29, MSHA issued two Program Information Bulletins (PIB) on possible electrical hazards at underground coal and metal and non-metal mines. The first PIB (P11-52) relates to a potential electrical shock and methane/hydrogen ignition hazard involving two-pole male battery connectors/plugs installed on permissible and nonpermissible battery-powered machines. MSHA has identified a shock and ignition hazard that exists on some battery-powered machines having two-pole male battery connectors or plugs installed on the machine's power cable from the main breaker enclosure to the battery. In some two-pole machines, energy stored in the drive controller capacitors can allow voltage to be present at the exposed and unprotected center pin of the disconnected male battery connector/plug.

The second PIB (P11-51) reminds the mining community that a nonintrinsically safe automatic fire sensor and warning device system, whether or not connected to an Atmospheric Monitoring System (AMS), must be de-energized after a main mine fan stoppage. MSHA became aware of an incident where a nonintrinsically safe Pyott-Boone Carbon Monoxide Monitoring System was energized by battery power for several hours after a main mine fan stoppage. During the period of the mine fan stoppage, mine personnel were exposed to dangerous conditions by having energized nonintrinsically safe equipment in a potentially explosive atmosphere. For more information go to

MSHA issues final UBB report

On December 6, MSHA issued the largest fine imposed in its agency history, $10,825,368, after releasing its final report on the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster that occurred on April 5, 2010 in Montcoal, West Virginia that killed 29 miners and injured two. An executive summary is available that highlights the major conclusions of the report. UBB is operated by Performance Coal Company (PCC), a former subsidiary of Massey Energy Company. This explosion was the largest coal mine disaster in the United States in 40 years.

The entire report is available on the single-source UBB webpage at, which also includes the fatal accident report, interview transcripts, PCC record books, citations and order issued, and more.

MSHA reinstates conferencing of citations

On Dec 1, MSHA announced the agency will begin implementing pre-assessment conferencing procedures in January 2012 to help reduce any backlog of future violations before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Under the procedures in most MSHA districts, a mine operator and miners' representative may request a conference regarding a contested citation or order only after MSHA proposes a penalty assessment, and any settlements require approval by the commission. The new procedures are based on the results of a pilot program launched by MSHA in August 2010 that evaluated the effect of the pre-assessment conference on contested citations.

Each MSHA district must determine when to implement the procedures based on available resources. Implementation may occur slowly or not at all in some districts, until other backlog reduction strategies take hold and make the caseloads more manageable.

The number of contested proposed civil penalties increased dramatically between 2007 and 2010, creating a backlog of more than 89,000 citations. The rise in contested violations has been attributed to the increase in penalty amounts and overall number of violations cited, the potential pattern of violations program and the replacement of pre-assessment conferences with post-assessment enhanced conferences. In the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, Congress provided $18.2 million to allow the Department of Labor to begin reducing the existing case backlog before the commission, and for other purposes related to mine safety. As of Sept. 30, the total number of citations in the backlog was down to approximately 69,000.

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