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SME eNews
See you in Seattle!
SME Annual Meeting
“Mine to Market: Now It’s Global”
February 19 – 22, 2012
Seattle, WA 98101

Vote Today — Vote Proxy
Time is running out to submit your vote for the 2012 SME leadership! The Annual Meeting of Members will be held on Sunday, February 19 at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle, WA, immediately following the SME Board of Directors meeting. Outgoing President John N. Murphy will report to the Society on SME activities, concerns, highlights and financial condition. Drew A. Meyer will be installed as 2012 President and, upon election by the membership entitled to vote, the following directors shall take office:

Jessica Elzea Kogel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President-Elect
Marc A. Herpfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Director-at-Large
Hugh B. Miller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Director-at-Large

Please plan to attend, or sign, date and return your mail ballot today. Online voting is also an option:

Silent Auction Preview

The SME Foundation invites you to check out some of the great items the SME Foundation will bring for its silent auction at the SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit in Seattle.

There are many great items to choose from. Look at some of the items online at: Silent Auction Items

Come see us at the SME Foundation booth!

Final teams selected for the 2011/12 SME/NSSGA Student Design Competition
Fourteen teams competed in the first phase of the SME/NSSGA Student Design Competition. Six of those were chosen to advance to the second and final phase which will be conducted at the SME Annual Meeting. The six teams that will advance are:
  1. McGill University – 5M & Associates
  2. McGill University – CFP Consulting
  3. University of Nevada-Reno – Herlocker Aggregates
  4. Virginia Tech – Riverstone Aggregates
  5. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur – Bharat Khanitras
  6. Missouri University of Science & Technology – Team A (Midwest Consultants)
All the teams are to be congratulated for an excellent effort. The Design Competition final presentations will be held Sunday, February 19, 2012, Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Seattle, WA in conjunction with the 2012 SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit.

February Minerals & Metallurgical Processing
now online
The Industrial Minerals Special Issue of M&MP is now online. Abstracts are free and available to the public; full articles are available only to subscribers.

Until March 31: subscribe for the first time between now and March 31, 2012, and get M&MP for the fantastic low price of $50 for Online Only or $75 for Print & Online (sorry, U.S. addresses only).
Does Size Matter (Is Bigger Always Better)?
Annual Meeting of the Mineral Processing Division — Colorado SME Section
April 26-28, 2012
The Broadmoor,
Colorado Springs, CO

Click here to register (pdf).

The 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 that they consider a benefit to the industry. Students who have completed internships for relevant underground projects may submit a paper discussing their experience and project details (pending approval from their employer). All papers will be reviewed by the NAT Scholarship Committee, and the top three authors will be asked to present their paper in person during the NAT Conference in Indianapolis, IN on June 24-27, 2012.

The top three authors will receive conference admission, including flight and accommodations, a copy of the conference proceedings and the opportunity to visit underground works in the Indianapolis area. The authors will present their papers at the conference breakfast. Three winners will receive $2,000 each.
  • Abstract with Bio extended to February 15, 2012
  • Final Papers due April 30, 2012
  • Conference: June 24-27, 2012
Please submit papers to: Brett Zernich, phone (323) 633 0607, e-mail

SME launches two new eLearning courses
SME is pleased to offer the following new courses
in its eLearning program:
Acid Rock Drainage: Prediction and Treatment
This video presents a technical foundation on acid rock drainage related to permitting new mines and remediation of abandoned mine land.

Equipment Management: Key to Reliability
Taught by Paul D. Tomlingson

This course, designed for mining operational personnel, introduces and explains the fundamental economic and financial models and terms which are commonly found in the minerals industry. The course is perfect for managers and technical professionals in the minerals industries who do not have a financial background but wish to expand their knowledge of basic financial tools and terms they will commonly encounter.

SME will be adding new courses on a regular basis, so be certain to check the website regularly to see what's new. As always, SME members receive a discount. If you are not a member, please enjoy these courses at reasonable nonmember rates or join SME and take advantage of the numerous benefits and discounts we offer.

For a complete catalog, see:

New from the SME Bookshelf: The World of Mining
In this truly unique celebration of mining, breathtaking aerial photographs accompany ground-level pictures of mines, mine-side oddities and mine communities. Informed but breezy narratives explain the images. This coffee table book shows that mining and associated activities can be impressive, attractive and even spectacular. Members pay only $80.

Click here to order The World of Mining today!

SME Co-Sponsors STEM Event in Washington, DC
SME is co-sponsoring the Society of Women Engineers’ Capitol Hill Day, “Diversity and Inclusion Fuels Innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).” Held March 21-22 in Washington, DC, this event focuses on increasing awareness on the Hill of the need for and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the STEM workforce. To register, go to and enter “diversity12” as the password. As co-sponsor of this event, SME’s first five registrants are free, so register early. For more information, go to

Washington Updates

House committee demands DOI response on rewrite of mining rule
On January 25, as part of the House Natural Resources Committee’s nearly year-long investigation into the Obama Administration’s rewrite of the 2008 coal mining rule (Stream Buffer Zone Rule), Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Energy and Minerals Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) sent a letter (PDF) to the Secretary of the Interior calling for the Administration to comply with repeated document requests that have gone unanswered. The letter states the Chairmen’s intent to move to compel cooperation and production of these documents if a Feb 9 deadline is not met.

The Administration’s Office of Surface Mining is in the process of rewriting this mining rule that took five years of study and development to complete. Analysis from the draft Environmental Impact Statement determined the new rule could cost at least 7,000 mining jobs and cause economic harm in 22 states.

Among the documents requested:
  • Recordings of meetings and conversations between the Department and contractors
  • Documents related to the decision to disregard the 2008 Rule and to conduct a new EIS
  • Documents related to the dismissal of the original contractor
Under House and Committee rules, the full Committee or a Subcommittee may authorize and issue a subpoena to compel the appearance of witnesses or to provide documents.

Rep. Coffman urges trade sanctions on Chinese REE policy

On February 3, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), chairman of the Congressional Rare Earth Caucus, encouraged President Obama to start with China’s rare earth trade policy after the president indicated he would take a tougher stance against China’s unfair trade practices in his State of the Union address. In a bipartisan letter (PDF) sent to the White House, Coffman urged the president to not only use the newly-formed Trade Enforcement Unit to investigate China’s illegal trade practices, but also to demand that the World Trade Organization sanction the Chinese for unfair trade practices regarding the export of rare earth minerals. Coffman’s letter is the Congressman’s latest campaign to persuade U.S. officials to take action with international trade authorities against China’s illegal policy of restricting rare earth exports. SME’s technical briefing paper (PDF) on REEs states that, since the Chinese dominance of the rare earths market has adversely impacted supply stability and endangers assured access to key materials by the U.S. and its allies, rare earths should qualify as materials either strategic or critical to national security.

MSHA issues bulletin on notification of mine commencement
On February 7, MSHA issued a Program Information Bulletin reminding mine operators of the requirement to notify the agency of the approximate or actual date mine operation will commence. The notification shall include the mine name, location, the company name, mailing address, person in charge and whether operations will be continuous or intermittent. When any mine is closed, the person in charge shall notify MSHA and indicate whether the closure is temporary or permanent. Effective February 1, MSHA added online reporting ( and a toll-free telephone number (800-746-1553) as two new alternatives to aid in meeting the reporting requirements.

MSHA initiates enforcement program to stem fatalities

On January 31, MSHA launched the third phase of an outreach and enforcement program designed to strengthen efforts to prevent mining fatalities. "Rules to Live By III: Preventing Common Mining Deaths" will focus on 14 safety standards. From 2001 through 2010, 609 miners lost their lives in workplace accidents. Violations associated with eight coal standards contributed to 75 deaths during this period, while violations associated with six metal and nonmetal standards contributed to 50 deaths. Beginning April 1, MSHA will focus more attention on these 14 standards, with enhanced enforcement efforts, increased scrutiny for related violations and instructions to inspectors to more carefully evaluate gravity and negligence - consistent with the seriousness of the violation - when citing violations that cause or contribute to mining fatalities. MSHA inspectors will receive online training to promote consistency in enforcement activity across the agency. MSHA’s original Rules to Live By Program began in February 2010.

MSHA issues 2012 regulatory agenda

On January 20, MSHA issued their semi-annual regulatory agenda, in which they list several key proposed and final rules for 2012 that will affect mine operators. In February, MSHA will develop a proposed rule to revise the process for proposing civil penalties. MSHA believes that the procedures for assessing civil penalties can be revised to improve the efficiency of the Agency's efforts and to facilitate the resolution of enforcement issues. In April, MSHA is preparing a final rule to revise the Agency's existing regulation for pattern of violations and a separate final rule to reduce miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust. In May, the agency will issue a proposed rule that will amend the current standard for occupational exposure to crystalline silica. At present, the MSHA permissible exposure limit is 100 ug/m3. However, NIOSH recommends a 50 ug/m3 exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica. It is reasonable to expect MSHA to propose a lower limit at or near NIOSH’s recommended limit. However, a recent study showed that a silica rule that would call for a 50% reduction in the PEL would cost the industry more than $5 billion annually.

Industrial Minerals Dust Control Handbook now available

A three-year collaboration between the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), MSHA and IMA-NA has resulted in the publication January 25 of a seminal handbook addressing dust control in industrial minerals mining and processing. Mined ore undergoes a number of crushing, grinding, cleaning, drying and product-sizing operations as it is processed into a marketable commodity. These operations are highly mechanized and can generate large amounts of dust. If control technologies are inadequate, hazardous levels of respirable dust may be liberated into the work environment. This richly illustrated dust control handbook offers a range of engineering controls capable of limiting dust generation and worker exposure.

USGS Updates

USGS Issues 2012 Mineral Commodities Summary
The U.S. Geological Survey has issued the 2012 Mineral Commodities Summary (PDF). In 2011, according to the USGS, the value of mineral production increased in the U.S. for the second consecutive year. Production increased modestly for most mineral commodities mined in the United States, and price increases, especially for precious metals, resulted in increases in the value of production. Minerals remained fundamental to the U.S. economy, contributing to the real gross domestic product (GDP) at several levels, including mining, processing and manufacturing finished products. Minerals’ contribution to the GDP increased for the second consecutive year. The U.S. was also 100% import reliant on 19 minerals in 2011, up from 18 in 2010. Total processed mined materials were consumed by downstream industries with a value added of an estimated $2.2 trillion in 2011, representing about 15% of the U.S. GDP, up from 14% in 2010. For more information go to

USGS grants $260K for strategic and critical mineral research projects

The U.S. Geological Survey announced that it has granted more than $260,000 under the 2012 USGS Mineral Resources External Research Program (MRERP) for “new research on mineral resources important to [US] economy, national security, and land-use decisions.” The MRERP research grants follow the passing by the House Natural Resources Committee the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Policy Act (PDF) of 2011, which aims to improve American mineral policy in part by coordinating a government-wide survey of American mineral resources. Research projects granted funding include: rare earth element deposits in California and southern New Mexico, niobium deposits in southeast Nebraska, understanding tellurium as a critical mineral commodity and understanding how rare earths migrate in the weathering environment.

USGS updates historical statistics for mineral and material commodities in the U.S.

This report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey draws on more than 125 years of minerals information experience and contains information on approximately 90 mineral commodities, including production, imports, exports and stocks; reported and apparent consumption; supply-demand and end use and unit value (the real and nominal price in U.S. dollars of a metric ton of apparent consumption). For most of the commodities, data are reported as far back as 1900, and have been updated through 2010 with finalized data. Each commodity file includes a document that describes the units of measure, defines terms and lists USGS contacts for additional information. End-use tables complement these statistics by supplying, for most of these commodities, information about the distribution of apparent consumption.

EPA’s online tool identifies mining water discharges
On January 25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the agency’s new discharge monitoring report (DMR) pollutant loading tool, designed to help the public determine who is discharging, what pollutants they are discharging and how much and where they are discharging. The tool calculates pollutant loadings from water permit and DMR data from EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory from 2007 through 2010. Pollutant loadings are presented as pounds per year and as toxic-weighted pounds per year to account for variations in toxicity among pollutants. The tool ranks dischargers, industries and watersheds based on pollutant mass and toxicity, and presents “top ten” lists to help you determine which discharges are important, which facilities and industries are producing these discharges and which watersheds are impacted. Using the EZ Search Tool on the website, you can quickly locate your mining facility by industry sector, city, state, zip code, watershed or pollutant. Find out what the government has on file for your facility’s water discharges.

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© 2012 Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
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