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SME eNews - View Past Issue  

SME eNews
2012 SME Annual Meeting

The 2012 SME Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA was a huge success. We had a total of 5,102 attendees, including 850 international attendees and 532 students. There were 690 exhibit booths, the largest number we have ever had.

This Annual Meeting included the launch of an Annual Meeting mobile app that was downloaded by 1,681 people, the first Water in Mineral Processing Keynote and Reception and the 3rd Annual Miners Give Back Project, which benefited the Food Lifeline. In addition to these events, we had 323 people at the Foundation Dinner, which was the largest attendance since the 50th Anniversary.

We would like to thank all the individuals and companies that helped to make the meeting a success and we would especially like to thank Newmont Mining Corporation, the Official Meeting sponsor for the 2nd year in a row.

We hope that you can join us in Denver for the 2013 SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit and the CMA 115th National Western Mining Conference from February 24th - 27th 2013.

Minerals Education Coalition to advance SME’s commitment to K-12 education
Last week at the SME Annual Meeting, the SME Foundation announced the establishment of its new Minerals Education Coalition (MEC) to further unify and strengthen the development, production and distribution of credible and objective mineral education materials. The Minerals Education Coalition’s vision is to help create an enlightened and supportive public that appreciates the importance of mining and minerals to their lives and their lifestyles.

SME’s core purpose, as stated in the SME Strategic Plan, is to be THE resource and advocate for the mining community. A critical component of this overall plan is to establish, maintain and fund a comprehensive mining and minerals education program. The Minerals Education Coalition has been designed to provide direction and oversight of SME’s fact-based K-12 minerals education activities from development to distribution. The MEC is comprised of SME’s former GEM and Mii Programs and will also include curriculum enhancements, expansion to new audiences and leveraging of strategic partnerships, alliances and collaborations. Free or low cost information and materials will continue to be provided to teachers and other education providers.

As stated by Dave Kanagy, SME’s Executive Director, “The integrated expansion of SME’s successful K-12 curriculum and volunteer efforts will now be fully merged and available to serve more teachers, thereby reaching more students, their families and the general public. As we move forward, we are committing our resources to including additional critical information in a variety of formats to help the public understand the importance of mining and minerals.”

For more information contact Sharon Schonhaut, MEC Manager, at (303) 948-4236 or schonhaut@smenet.org.

Pressurized TBM Tunneling Conference
Online registration for the Pressurized TBM Tunneling Conference, which will be held in Miami, FL from April 23 - 24, is now open! Be sure to take advantage of early bird registration and register before Friday, March 30th. To register online or to learn more about the conference, including exhibit and sponsorship opportunities, please visit: TBM Tunneling

Hotel rooms are still available at the JW Marriott Hotel in Miami; be sure to take advantage of the SME Group rate of $209 plus tax per night by calling 305-329-3500 or 800 228-9290 before March 23, 2012 and use the booking code tbmtbma.

An interview with Drew Meyer, 2012 SME president


Want more? Click on over to Mining Engineering’s latest member benefit, free access to Mining Engineering Online http://me.smenet.org/.

Special Issue: Industrial Minerals
The Industrial Minerals Special Issue of SME’s premier technical journal, Minerals & Metallurgical Processing, 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).

Coal Prep discount for SME members
Coal Prep is offering SME members 25% off registration, or free exhibit hall admission, to the 2012 Annual Coal Processing Exhibition and Conference, held April 30 - May 3 in Lexington, KY. Use source code D2 during registration when accessing this benefit. Contact Cristina Cotto, 570-996-6031 or cristina.cotto@penton.com, at Coal Prep for details.

Washington Updates

President’s FY ’13 Budget calls for AML Fund and 5% mining royalty
In his proposed $3.8 trillion budget for FY 2013 released February 13, President Obama renewed his call for the creation of a hardrock abandoned mined land (AML) fund, as well as a hardrock mining royalty of not less than five percent of gross proceeds. The Administration estimates the creation of a hardrock AML fund would generate $74.5 million in revenue over the next decade. The BLM would distribute the funds through a competitive grant program to reclaim the highest priority hardrock abandoned sites on federal, state, tribal and private lands. It would be instituted under a leasing program under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 for certain hardrock minerals, such as silver, gold and copper. Existing mining claims would be exempt.

The Secretary of Interior also intends to reform Coal Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation by terminating the unrestricted payments to states and tribes that have been certified for completing their coal reclamation work. Currently, the money has been dispersed to states based on how much coal they produce. However, a proposed new Abandoned Mine Lands Advisory Council to be created under the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) would review and rank abandoned coal mine land sites, so OSM could distribute grants to reclaim the highest priority coal sites each year. It is estimated the reforms would save taxpayers $1.1 billion over the next 10 years.

The proposed FY 2013 budget for the U.S. Geological Survey is $34.5 million above the 2012 enacted level for a total 2013 budget request of $1.1 billion. The budget includes $97.1 million for energy, minerals and environmental health, a $914,000 increase over this year's budget. Nevertheless, it includes program reductions of $5.3 million in the Minerals Resource Program. The proposed USGS budget includes an increase of $1 million to support research on rare earth elements.

The 2013 budget request for the Office of Surface Mining is $140.7 million, a $9.5 million drop in the 2012 enacted level. The OSM budget assumes the agency will collect the proposed AML fee on the production of hardrock minerals on uranium and metallic mines on both public and private lands.

Rep. Coffman names members of congressional Rare Earth Caucus

In February, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) announced the bi-partisan membership of the new Congressional caucus aimed at reestablishing a domestic supply chain of rare earths elements. The caucus was initially formed in November 2011 by Coffman to contribute to the education of his colleagues, to ensure the best information is available to Congress and to work towards solutions to the pressing rare earth supply chain problem. The 15-person caucus named Hank Johnson (D-GA) as co-chair.

Coffman said he hopes the new caucus will help bring Members of Congress together to promote awareness of, and solutions to, the issues and concerns related to rare earth elements, including in the areas of national security, resource development, economic security, trade matters and renewable energy. "I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to end our unacceptable reliance on China for these critical raw materials," Coffman said. "We must restart a viable domestic supply chain of rare earth elements now."

Coffman, an early rare earth advocate in Congress, first introduced his RESTART Act (PDF) in 2009 to shift U.S. reliance away from China and to rebuild a competitive supply chain for rare earth elements in the U.S. In addition to his legislative efforts, Coffman has also leaned on the U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to take action with the World Trade Organization against China’s illegal rare earth trade policies.

House passes bill forcing action on Keystone Pipeline

On Feb 16, the full House of Representative passed H.R. 3408, "Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act" or the "PIONEERS Act", which sets clear rules for the development of U.S. oil shale resources and for the promotion of shale technology research and development. H.R. 3408 was originally introduced in November by Rep. Lamborn (R-CO). House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) issued a statement applauding the passage of the bill. Included in the legislation is a provision from the Energy and Commerce Committee requiring swift approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which Upton called "a true shovel-ready project that will create tens of thousands of jobs."

NMA challenges Dept of Interior withdrawal of lands for uranium development
The National Mining Association (NMA) and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) filed a complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona challenging the constitutionality of the Dept of Interior’s decision to withdraw one million acres surrounding the Grand Canyon National Park from new mining claims for 20 years.

The suit also asks the court to declare that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act does not allow the Secretary of the Interior "to engage in withdrawals of 5,000 acres or more of public lands."

The court is also requested to declare that actions by the Dept. of Interior (DOI), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Dept of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as the issuance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement supporting the withdrawal of the land from mining exploration and development, violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

In a statement, NMA contends, "DOI has provided no evidence in the record or in its environmental impact statement that a million-acre land grab is necessary to avoid environmental harm; it has inadequately analyzed the economic impact of its actions; and the department has failed to rigorously evaluate the 'no action' alternative require by NEPA."

Industry survey lists best and worst places to mine
According to the Fraser Institute, New Brunswick in Canada has vaulted to the top of rankings as the world's most attractive jurisdiction for mineral exploration and development according to the Institute's latest survey (PDF) of mining companies. Alberta, which had occupied the top spot on last year's Fraser Survey, dropped to third on the list. The survey of 802 mining exploration and development companies on the investment climate of 93 nations, provinces and states ranked Honduras as the worst jurisdiction for mining exploration and development.

The companies participating in the Fraser Institute's Survey of Mining Companies: 2011/2012 reported exploration spending of US$6.3 billion in 2011 and US$4.5 billion in 2010.

Canadian jurisdictions claimed five of the top 10 spots this year. New Brunswick, Finland, Alberta, Wyoming, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Sweden, Nevada, Ireland and the Yukon Territory were ranked in the top 10 this year. The bottom 10 scorers are Honduras, Guatemala, Bolivia, Venezuela, India, Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Indonesia and Vietnam.

This year the survey determined that, "The strongest growing commodities in Latin America (Chile) and Africa (Botswana) are perceived to have the lowest level of corruption among developing nations. Even more interestingly, they are perceived to have less corruption than four Canadian provinces (Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Alberta), and two US states (Montana and Washington)."

The 10 jurisdictions considered by the survey respondents to be the most corrupt are India, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. The respondents consider Sweden, Norway, Finland, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho, Arizona, Saskatchewan and South Australia the least corrupt jurisdictions.

Bill Gates praises SEC’s new disclosure rules
In a Feb 9 letter (PDF) to the Securities and Exchange Commission from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates said the SEC's proposed new disclosure rules, to make oil, natural gas and mining companies disclose payments to governments, are critical to reducing the risks of bribery and corruption, and promoting transparency for the public.

The position taken by Gates is at odds with business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute.

The SEC's resource extraction proposal is one of three sets of mining-related disclosure rules required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. It would require the disclosure of details such as the types and total amount of payments made for each project related to the commercial development of oil, natural gas and minerals, the type and total payment to each government and the currency used, among other things.

A second rule, adopted in December, requires mining companies to disclose information about health and safety violations. A third proposed rule would make companies disclose whether they use tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The SEC has stalled in adopting both the resource extraction and conflict mineral rules, however, after they met with strong opposition from business and energy-focused trade groups. The groups have argued that detailed disclosures could put employees in harm's way or adversely impact competition, and they are calling for certain exemptions from disclosing more sensitive data.

Gates in his letter asked the SEC not to grant any exemptions, saying they would "defeat the purpose of the law."

MSHA updates
MSHA FY 2013 Budget to affect mine plan approvals
Although President Obama’s FY 2013 budget includes $16.9 million to continue efforts to help reduce an unacceptably large case backlog at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, a proposed $1 million cut in MSHA's budget will most likely delay mining plan approvals. The proposed FY 2013 budget request for MSHA reduces the number of full-time MSHA positions from 2,365 this year to 2,336 next year. The proposed 2013 budget is $371,896,000, down from $374 million this year.

The President's budget maintains the 597 fulltime positions currently in the metal and nonmetal mine safety and health division, but requests an increase of $1,834,000 to fully fund enforcement staff positions. MSHA projects that it will conduct 29,000 inspections at metal and nonmetal mines in FY 2013. The Coal Mine Safety and Health division, which represents about 45% of MSHA's budget, estimates it will conduct 5,300 mandatory inspections in FY 2013. The total coal mine safety and health budget request for next year is $167,859,000, up from $164,500,000 in FY 2012. The coal budget also aims to fill staff vacancies to allow for more timely review of roof control and ventilation plans.

MSHA has also designated its five top priorities in FY 2013, including ensuring mining industry work places are safe and healthy, strengthen regulatory efforts, ensure miners have a voice in the workplace, modernize training and reduce the backlog of contested cases before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.

MSHA announces Spring Thaw Workshops

MSHA has announced the Spring Thaw 2012 training schedule. The metal/nonmetal industry will host several cooperative mine safety and health workshops around the nation to increase awareness of mining hazards. Safety professionals from mining companies, as well as MSHA personnel will share information and experiences in dealing with mining hazards. The seminars will coincide with winter's end, when many intermittent mining operations begin producing again, often with new employees who are new to the mining environment. Statistics show that accidents tend to increase during April and May. There is no charge to attend the seminars.

MSHA reorganizes Office of Special Enforcement

On February 8, MSHA announced a reorganization that calls for its Office of Assessments, Accountability, Special Enforcement and Investigations to now incorporate the management, support and coordination of both routine and special assessments, as well as agency headquarters accountability functions and special enforcement strategies. This includes the citing of flagrant violations, investigations of retaliation claims and possible criminal violations, impact inspections, the pattern of violations program and the use of injunctive authority. MSHA also will create a new deputy director position for Investigations, Special Enforcement and Accountability. Finally, MSHA is establishing a special enforcement and analysis branch to administer special enforcement programs such as POV and impact inspections.

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