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The SME summer webinar series is well underway. Webinars are an effective way to join others in the industry without the expense and inconvenience of travel. The summer program features five hour-long webinars. Each program is $45 for members and $90 for nonmembers. Register today at: SME summer webinar series.

Wednesday, July 11, 2:00 p.m. MDT
“Coal Mining and Science: New Opportunities,” John Craynon, ARIES Project Director, Virginia Tech

Tuesday, August 7, 8:00 a.m. MDT
“The Road to Zero Harm,” Gary Goldberg, Executive Vice President and COO, Newmont Mining Corp.

Just one month left to nominate your leadership: act now!
SME needs your support in selecting the future leadership of our Society. Please nominate and/or recommend members (including yourself) to serve the Society in one of the following roles: SME President (2015), Board Members-at-large (two will be selected) and members for all SME Strategic Committees. For guidelines and information on the nominating process, click here: Call for Nominations Letter.
Deadline: July 31, 2012

Call for Papers – 2013 RETC
The 2013 Rapid Excavation and Tunneling Conference (RETC) Organizing Committee has issued a call for papers.

2013 RETC, June 23-26, Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC

Prospective authors should submit an abstract no later than June 30, 2012 to:
Mine the archives
Click over to SME’s newest member benefit: free access to the complete online archives of Mining Engineering. Login for full access.

News from the SME Foundation
The Hugh and Michelle Harvey Family Foundation has been a great supporter of the educational programs within the SME Foundation. We would like to say thank you to Hugh and Michelle for their generous gift of $5,000 to the Minerals Education Coalition (MEC) program. This gift will be used to expand the MEC’s reach into more communities and classrooms.

Two new courses now available!
Register today for professional development on your schedule, at your convenience.

Fundamentals of the Dragline
This self-paced, video hybrid course provides a detailed look at the efficient planning and operation of draglines, a critical aspect to the majority of surface coal mines throughout the world. Very few university programs offer in-depth studies of draglines, and aftermarket training is primarily available through infrequently scheduled seminars. As a result, most training is received on the job and this course provides an excellent primer on the subject.

Mining Terminology and Methods
This self-paced, video hybrid course provides a wide variety of common mining terms, surface and underground mining methods, and the pros and cons of each. Additionally, this course identifies the different types of mineral commodities, drilling and blasting concepts and, finally, sources for additional information.

SME will be adding new courses on a regular basis, so be sure to check the website regularly to see what's new. As always, we are very happy to offer our members 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. SME now offers 34 online courses. For a complete catalog, see:

Call for presentations – UMI 2012
UMI 2012: Marine Minerals: Finding the Right Balance of Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection, October 15-20, 2012, Tonji University, Shanghai, China
The Underwater Mining Institute is seeking presentations focused on environmental baseline and monitoring technologies and results, benefit/cost evaluations of seabed versus land-based mining for specific commodities, strategies and methodologies for achieving sustainable seabed mining projects and others of relevant and timely interest to seabed minerals. Prospective authors can submit an abstract to: UMI Authors Information page.
Call for papers - Environmental Considerations in Energy Production
The organizing committee has issued a call for papers. This conference is aimed at bringing together interested parties from around the world to exchange ideas on energy production, including mining, oil and gas production and electrical power generation, and the impacts on the environment and society.

When: April 14-18, 2013, Charleston, WV
For complete details, see: Environmental Considerations in Energy Production.

View 2012 SME Annual Meeting sessions online
If you missed the Annual meeting in Seattle, you can still take in the Keynote and 10 other sessions at: SME Annual Meeting Sessions.
Safety Management & System Reliability
SME and CIM are pleased to announce the second in a series of reliability and safety conferences.

November 13-15, 2012, Minneapolis, Marriott City Center, Minneapolis, MN

This conference is intended to provide attendees with the unique opportunity to learn and discuss best practices pertaining to topics related to safety and health management, loss control and system reliability. For more information, see: Safety Management & System Reliability

SME participates in UN Rio + 20 sustainability conference
SME is being officially represented this week at the UN Rio + 20 Conference on Sustainable Development by Dr. Deborah Shields of Colorado State University. Deb is joined by Fred Heivilin, chair of SME’s Sustainable Development Committee. International policy-makers, business and youth leaders are convening in Rio to discuss the actions individuals, institutions, governments and the private sector can take to achieve environmental protection, social development and economic prosperity over the next 20 years. Deb is also representing SME’s interests in Rio as a member of the recently formed World Federation of Engineering Organizations’ international task force on mining and sustainability that seeks to raise global understanding and application of engineering approaches and technologies in order to increase the contribution of the mining and minerals industries to economic, social and environmental wellbeing and sustainable development. At the conference, Shields will participate in a number of activities intended to expand the conversation on mining and sustainable development, such as the Summit on Sustainable Communities and a meeting sponsored by the Brazilian mining technology center on rare earths and sustainable mineral processing.

Canadian aggregate reclamation study issued
The Ontario Stone, Sand & Gravel Association released a study (PDF) that shows reclaimed sites are being successfully integrated into their communities and surrounding landscapes once rehabilitation is complete. The availability of high-quality mineral resources close to demand centers in Ontario has helped to drive economic growth in the province for many years. Due to increasing land use conflicts, aggregate extraction has become controversial in recent years, partly because there has been very little information available about rehabilitated aggregate sites in the province. The objectives of the study were to document and analyze field data, and develop informed conclusions and recommendations regarding the state of rehabilitation on former aggregate sites in Ontario. Among the findings was that the land uses of the sites are natural (32 percent), residential (15 percent), recreational (13 percent), water (11 percent) and open space (11 percent), with minor occurrences of other uses, such as industrial, commercial or institutional.

Washington Updates

Anti-mountaintop coal mining bill introduced
On June 19, Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced legislation to provide scientific analysis of the potential health threats to communities affected by mountaintop mining. H.R. 5959 (PDF), The Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act (ACHE), would place a moratorium on new mountaintop removal coal mines and expansion of existing mines until the science demonstrates the mines will not cause adverse health effects in the local community.

In a press release introducing the bill, Kucinich said, “The Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act will provide the families in these communities the answers and the protection they deserve. Mountaintop mining is a practice in which entire mountaintops are blown up in order to access a seam of coal sitting deep inside the mountain. The evidence is growing that toxic chemicals that are safely sequestered in rock inside the mountain, get released when the mountains are turned inside out.”

The Democrats' bill would provide funding for researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study the public health effects of mountaintop mining projects. The funding would come from fees levied on the mining companies themselves. The Democrats' bill has no chance of being considered in the GOP-controlled House. But it is indication that some high-profile Democrats remain dedicated to their environmentalist and public-health base even in the face of warnings from the coal industry that tougher monitoring of mountaintop removal projects will kill jobs in an already depressed corner of the country.

Murkowski comments on transfer of Rock Creek Mine to Bering Straits Native Corp.
On June 12, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) congratulated the Bering Straits Native Corp. on its purchase of the Rock Creek Mine, outside of Nome, from NovaGold Resources. “The Bering Straits Native Corp. should be applauded for taking steps to develop the economy of the Nome region and create jobs for its shareholders,” Murkowski said. “Resource extraction is often a job done by Outside companies, who take the lion’s share of the profits out of Alaska. It’s refreshing to see a potential mine project be locally owned, where it can provide the greatest benefit to Alaskans.”

Bering Straits is evaluating whether operations at the mine can be restarted. Bering Straits is also negotiating with NovaGold Resources to buy the Alaska Gold Co., which in addition to owning the Rock Creek Mine also owns the Big Hurrah mining claim.

House Committee holds hearings on cost of Endangered Species Act litigation
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is often an expensive tool used by opponents of natural resource development to try and shutter proposed mining operations. The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on June 19 to help determine the cost and impact of taxpayer-funded attorneys’ fees and time spent on ESA litigation. The ESA is increasingly being used by special interest groups to file lawsuits, or petitions threatening lawsuits, to drive federal agencies to make agenda-driven decisions not based on verifiable data, sound science or priority. According to data from the Department of Justice, the federal government has defended more than 570 ESA-related lawsuits costing more than $15 million in attorney fees, in just the past four years. The top three litigants in ESA lawsuits are the Center for Biological Diversity, Wildearth Guardians and the Sierra Club.

Obama Administration skips hearing to explain veto action against coal mining
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on June 1 on the "Obama Administration’s Actions Against the Spruce Coal Mine: Canceled Permits, Lawsuits and Lost Jobs." The hearing focused on EPA’s unprecedented move to revoke a previously legally issued coal mine permit. A Federal Court recently ruled that the EPA "exceeded its authority" under the Clean Water Act to revoke the already issued Spruce Mine No. 1 coal permit and that such an action required "magical thinking." The existing permit was declared “valid and in full force” but the Obama Administration is challenging the ruling. While officials from the Administration were invited to testify, none of them chose to accept the invitation and explain their actions.

“This is the story of how one agency - the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency - can attempt to singlehandedly decide to retroactively pull permits, destroy jobs, and cripple our economy without consequence. At the heart of this issue is the lack of confidence in permitting by the federal government. If without cause an agency can retroactively veto issued permits, then how can any company, contractor or concessionaire have confidence to invest in America when their permit is not worth the paper it is written on,” said Energy and Minerals Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn. Witnesses in attendance at the hearing, including West Virginia State Senator Art Kirkendoll, explained the estimated $220 billion economic consequence of EPA’s retroactive permit revocation to his state and the region.

MSHA Updates

MSHA issues safety alert for proximity to mobile equipment
According to MSHA, there has been an alarming upward trend of serious and fatal injuries involving miners who are being crushed, run over or pinned or struck by moving mining equipment. Since January 1, 2010, eighty five miners have been injured by mobile equipment, including eight miners who were killed in accidents involving mobile face equipment. Of the total number of miners injured, twenty-six were permanently partially or totally disabled from accidents involving mobile equipment and fifty-one had lost time accidents involving continuous miners, shuttle cars, ramcars, mantrips and scoops. For a list of best practices to avoid injury related to moving equipment, a list of providers of proximity detection systems and more, visit MSHA’s Proximity Detection / Collision Warning Single Source Page.

MSHA claims enhanced enforcement is leading to better industry compliance
According to remarks (PDF) delivered by MSHA’s Joe Main at Penn State’s Miner Training Program on June 13, enhanced enforcement strategies by MSHA and volunteer actions being taken by the mining industry are making a positive difference in moving mine safety and health in the right direction. During the more than two-year-old impact inspection program, which targets mines with chronic compliance issues, MSHA has conducted 443 inspections, resulting in 7,948 citations, 785 orders and 29 safeguards. Main noted also that the agency's pattern of violations initiative is netting positive results. In a recent review of enforcement data on the 14 mines that received initial potential POV notices in 2010, the total violation rate at these mines is down 25 percent, the total S&S violation rate is down 44 percent and the rate of 104(d) withdrawal orders is down 66 percent. The lost-time injury rate at these mines has dropped 43 percent. Compliance data also show that improvements are occurring in the mining industry as a whole. Main also outlined other important initiatives currently being implemented including Rules to Live By, new MSHA regulatory actions, improved mine emergency response, compliance with the guarding standard, increased stakeholder outreach and more focus on consistency in mine inspections and inspector training.

EPA Updates

EPA retains current dust standard in proposed air rule
On June 15, EPA published a proposed rule (PDF) that retains the current federal coarse particulate matter air quality standard, termed PM10. PM 10 is dust that is 10 microns in size and is generated from attrition of coarse crustal materials like rocks. In the mining industry, PM10 can be generated from drilling, blasting, crushing, grinding or other processing or moving of rocks and minerals. The current PM 10 standard of 150 ug/m3 will remain in place for at least more five years. The mining and agricultural industries were instrumental in convincing EPA that no additional adverse health effects to the general public have occurred under the current PM 10 standard and that lowering the existing standard without scientific justification would be detrimental to the U.S. economy.

In the same announcement, EPA did propose to set a tighter air quality standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), or soot. That is generated primarily from combustion sources. The proposal would tighten the annual health-based air quality standard for PM2.5 to between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter from the current standard of 15, according to an overview (PDF) the agency released with the rule. The 24-hour PM2.5 standard, set in 2006, would be retained. For some industrial mineral producers that intentionally create saleable product in the PM 2.5 size range via fine-grinding applications, this could mean installation of additional measures to control fugitive dust from these sources. All but six U.S. counties will be expected to meet this new standard by 2020. The public comment period is open for nine weeks. During that time, EPA will hold public hearings in Sacramento and Philadelphia. EPA is under court order to publish a final rule in December 2012. For more information go to EPA’s single source page on Particulate Matter.

EPA issues webinars on TRI reporting as deadlines approach
Under EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program, most metal and coal mining operations must report to the agency by July 1, 2012 for any chemical releases that occurred in calendar year 2011. EPA’s TRI Program released basic and advanced prerecorded audio and Powerpoint webinars on the TRI reporting requirements for subject industries that includes reporting exemptions, threshold determinations, an overview of Form R, how to deal with multi-establishment plans and more. The webinar was planned for facilities that fill out and submit TRI reports, but other stakeholders may be interested in hearing about how EPA uses the P2 information collected under TRI and getting perspectives on TRI and sustainability from EPA's Pollution Prevention Program. The webinar recording and presentation slides are now available at

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