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SME eNews
NAT 2012 a great success
We had a great North American Tunneling Conference in Indianapolis. With 918 attendees, 116 exhibiting companies in 140 booths, several exciting technical sessions and social events, this was one of the most successful NAT conferences to date.

We hope you will join us in Washington, D.C. for RETC June 23 –26, 2013.
Did you miss the North American
Tunneling conference?
NAT 2012 Proceedings has more than 100 papers from engineers, contractors, owners, suppliers, manufacturers and others in the industry documenting the progress being made in the methods, practices and technologies used in underground infrastructure.

You can grab a copy of the 2012 Proceedings here. It is also available as an e-book.

Call for Nominations – James Douglas Gold Medal Award and Frank F. Aplan Award
SME has announced a call for nominations for the 2013 James Douglas Gold Medal Award and the 2013 Frank F. Aplan Award.
  • The James Douglas Gold Medal Award is jointly administered between SME and TMS and recognizes distinguished achievement in nonferrous metallurgy, including both the beneficiation of ores and the alloying and utilization of nonferrous metals.

  • The Frank F. Aplan Award recognizes engineering or scientific contributions that further the understanding of the technology of coal and/or mineral engineering.

Click on the name of the award above for more information or to download the nomination form.
Nominations must be received by August 1, 2012.

Support the Boy Scout Mining Merit Badge
SME’s volunteers and staff have been working with Boy Scouts of America to determine if there is sufficient interest to have a Mining Merit Badge offered as an official activity. By signing up to be part of the Scouting Research Panel, you agree to receive surveys via e-mail on a variety of topics related to the Scouting experience, the Scouting program, or other areas of interest to Scouting.

Your information will only be used for research purposes by the national office of the Boy Scouts of America. Your identity in all surveys is kept confidential and results of the surveys are only reported as a group; no individual responses will be identified. They will not send you more than four surveys a year. You will need to have your membership card available to register.

If you or your children qualify in one of the groups below, we hope you will register to be part of the research survey team at
  • Boy Scout (14 years old and older) and Venturing Youth
  • Parents of Cub Scouts
  • Parents of Boy Scouts (13 years old and younger)
  • Registered volunteers

Just two weeks 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: Nomination Form (PDF).
Deadline: July 31, 2012.
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.

Exclusive SME offer for Water Management in Mining conference
IQPC North America is offering SME members a steep discount on registration for the 2012 Water Management in Mining conference at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, July 23-25. This course will provide tools and strategies for ongoing mine water management. From the initial feasibility studies, through operations and mine closure, understanding how to efficiently and sustainably use water throughout the mining process is of paramount importance. Due to the capital intensity of mine operations, vigorous regulations and the ever-important need for environmental sustainability, effective ‘life of mine’ water management strategies can help to ensure overall operational efficiency and long-term cost reductions. As a member of SME, you are eligible for an exclusive All Access Pass for conference & workshop attendance. Members directly involved in the mining sector qualify for attendance for just $1,199 (saving you $800), while service providers & consultants save $600 – All Access passes available for $1,699. An All Access pass spans three days and includes intensive and technical workshops, interactive panel discussions and practical case studies. Don't delay – register immediately to benefit from this limited offer. This offer is only available to SME members and is available by calling 800-882-8684 or emailing Please quote Promo Code: WMMSME in all correspondence to guarantee the exclusive SME discount.

SME Foundation closing in on goal
The SME Foundation is drawing closer to attaining its fiscal year goal for the first time EVER! Watch the Foundation website for weekly updates. If you would like to be a part of this historic event, you can donate online from the home page: just click the “Make a contribution” button at the top and choose which program you would like to support. You will be listed in a coming issue of Mining Engineering magazine as being a supporter of all our great programs.

SME issues technical briefing on water use in the mining industry
On June 26, SME issued its eighth technical briefing paper, “Mining and the Use, Quality and Availability of Water.” This paper addresses the often controversial public concerns of mining’s perceived impact on local surface and ground water sources due to withdrawals and acid rock drainage. While mining represents a very small faction of the total world’s water demand, its impacts on local resources surrounding mine sites can be significant. This paper reiterates SME’s support for continual improvement of water management at mines and for the minimizing of the effects of mining on both water quantity and quality by preventing or minimizing the migration of acid drainage and other mine-related contaminants to surface and ground water resources; maximizing water recycling and minimizing water consumption during operations; integrating pollution prevention and water conservation measures in mine planning, design and operation; and creating mines that are suitable for a variety of productive post-mining land uses. This paper, and others issued by SME, can be downloaded from Contact John Hayden ( for more information.

New challenge to mining: Facebook
Use of Facebook and Twitter derailed rare earth producer Lynas’ plans to mine and process material in Malaysia. This is certainly not the first time organized social media campaigns have derailed industry’s plans for development. However, the quote from the CEO of Australian rare earth producer Lynas is instructional: “In hindsight, I'd have dealt with the emerging community debate by the social media a little bit more intensely, a little bit earlier," Curtis said in a phone interview from Sydney on June 29. "We probably didn't recognize the power of the social media to create an issue."

There are more than 12 million Facebook users in Malaysia, according to Facebook Inc., highlighting the importance of social media engagement in Southeast Asia's third-largest economy.

If you want to read the entire article:

Mining’s significant contribution to overall DOI economic impact
On July 9, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis issued a report (PDF) on Interior’s economic contributions, including $385 billion to the U.S. economy and support for over 2 million jobs in FY 2011. One of the major highlights of the report is that the development of oil, gas, coal, hydropower and other minerals on Federal lands supported about 1.5 million jobs and $275 billion in economic activity. Onshore oil, gas and coal activities on Interior-managed lands resulted in over 400,000 jobs and almost $100 billion in economic contributions, while offshore activities supported an additional 734,500 jobs and $121 billion in economic contributions.

BLS predicts net employment in the mining sector to increase by 24,800 jobs between 2010 and 2020. The oil and gas extraction industry will account for the most new jobs created in this sector (23,200) during this period. Employment in the coal and metal ore mining industries, on the other hand, is expected to decrease by 3,100 and 8,300 jobs, respectively, during the next decade. The Abandoned Mine Lands grant program administered by OSM can keep jobs in areas where mining is in decline, such as West Virginia and Kentucky. Based on funding allocated, the AML program is estimated to create 1,566 jobs in these two states in 2011.

SEC sets date for conflict minerals vote
After a long delay, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has set a date to vote on controversial new rules requiring companies to disclose payments to governments and whether any of their products use certain African "conflict minerals." The SEC said it would meet on August 22 to publicly vote on the two sets of rules, which are required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.

The conflict minerals rule would require companies to disclose whether they use tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The other rule would require oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments they make to governments.

The conflict minerals rule has been arguably one of the most controversial rules in the Dodd-Frank law. As proposed, companies would need to identify if any conflict minerals are used in their products. If the minerals are present, the companies would then need to conduct a due diligence check to track them through the supply chain to their origins. Companies and business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have strongly cautioned the SEC to slow down and scale back its proposal. They say it will be hard to put into practice, as these minerals can be used in minuscule amounts and are almost impossible to track through the numerous layers of the supply chain. The rule has been delayed since the SEC missed its April 17, 2011 deadline, mainly due to a bitter dispute between human rights groups who say the rules will help reduce corruption and companies who say they will be too costly and difficult to implement.

Washington Updates

House passes critical minerals bill
On July 12, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4402, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012, by a vote of 256-160, which included 22 Democrats voting with the majority. The bill, introduced by former Nevada Mining Association President turned Congressman, Mark Amodei (R-NV), allows the U.S. to more efficiently develop strategic and critical minerals, such as rare earth elements, that are vital to job creation, American economic competitiveness and national security. The bill streamlines the permitting process for mineral development by coordinating the actions of federal, state, local and Tribal agencies. The legislation would require federal agencies, including the Interior Department, to promote critical mineral production. It offers a broad definition of such materials, including resources necessary for national security, infrastructure, manufacturing and economic growth. In the Senate, compromise amendments to Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) “Critical Minerals Policy Act” (S.1113) are said to be under serious consideration by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

House Committee passes Interior appropriations bill funding USGS and EPA
The House Appropriations Committee on June 28 passed the FY 2013 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies spending bill, which includes funding cuts for both the EPA and USGS. The spending measure sets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s budget at $7 billion, a 17 percent cut from last year, and its lowest level since 1997. The overall budget for the USGS was reduced to $967 million, a $101 million cut over the previous year’s budget. According to a subcommittee statement, "The majority of the reductions are in climate change, ecosystems and administrative accounts, while programs dealing with energy and minerals, mapping and water are prioritized."

SME has given testimony supporting adequate funding for the National Minerals Information Center (a.k.a. Minerals Information Team), as it is the only agency in the federal government that collects data on minerals supply and demand.

It important to note that Congress is unlikely to pass any of the FY 2013 spending bills before the end of the fiscal year. The November elections loom on the horizon and a continuing resolution will almost certainly be required.

Transportation bill signed into law
On June 29, Congress passed, and the president signed, a $120 billion transportation package (PDF), which renews until October 2014 the formula by which the federal government contributes its share of spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects. The aggregates and construction industries are the biggest beneficiaries of this bill. While those industries were hoping for a longer term bill, passage creates some breathing room for a mining and construction sector beat down in recent years due to the recession. The major source of disagreement was the shortfall in revenue raised from the federal tax on gasoline sales, compared with the projected cost of renewing the transportation-funding formula. Lawmakers of both parties have been reticent to increase the gas tax, which has been set at 18.4 cents per gallon for nearly 20 years. The bi-partisan bill passed the Senate by a vote of 74-19 and the House by a vote of 373-52.

House passes Domestic Energy and Jobs act with bipartisan support
On June 21, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, H.R. 4480 (PDF), with bipartisan support by a vote of 248 to 163. This important energy and jobs package, sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), includes key measures advanced by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Natural Resources Committee to increase American energy supplies and reduce regulatory hurdles. The bill also includes five bills from the Natural Resources Committee designed to help create jobs by removing barriers to domestic energy production.

"The seven bills in this package provide an opportunity for job growth and energy security. These bipartisan pieces of legislation make sure that we move forward on oil and gas development in the western United States and on federal lands, and that we take steps to ensure our nation relies on American-made energy, provided by American jobs," said Gardner.

The legislative package includes H.R. 4381 (PDF) that directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish goals for a true all-of-the-above energy production plan strategy, that includes coal as well as critical and strategic minerals, on a four-year basis on all onshore Federal lands managed by the DOI and the USFS.

MSHA Updates

MSHA’s 2012 Roof Control Program focuses on rib control
MSHA will once again focus its annual mine roof control program on efforts to improve mine rib control during the 2012 Preventive Roof Rib Outreach Program (PROP). MSHA's PROP is intended to increase awareness of the hazards that can lead to roof and rib fall accidents and injuries and the precautions necessary to prevent them. For the second consecutive year, in 2011 fatal rib roll accidents in underground coal mines outnumbered more typical fatal roof fall accidents. Most recently, on June 25, a coal miner in eastern Kentucky suffered fatal injuries when he was crushed by a rib roll. MSHA’s single source PROP page includes lists of rib roll best practices for extended cut remote control miners; remote control miners; roof evaluation and examination; retreat mining; roof bolting; and moving to a new location, mine or job.

MSHA clarifies guidance on fall protection from elevated walkways
On June 22, MSHA issued a Program Policy Letter (PPL) to clarify compliance with safety belts and lines (56/57.15005) when there is a risk of falling. The guidance states that, as in the OSHA standard, MSHA in most cases will see fall protection as needed for each employee on a walking/working surface with an unprotected side or edge which is six feet or more above a lower level. Industry representatives requested this clarification due to conflicting requirements between MSHA and OSHA rules. This PPL applies to surface and underground metal and nonmetal mine operators, contractors, equipment manufacturers, miners, miners' representatives and Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health enforcement personnel.

EPA Updates

Court decision leads to EPA final rule on greenhouse gas limits for coal-fired power plants
On June 26, a decision (PDF) issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia supported the EPA’s legal standing to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from both stationary sources, like coal-fired power plants, and from mobile sources. The three-judge panel unanimously upheld the EPA’s 2009 finding that GHGs such as carbon dioxide endanger public health and likely have been responsible for certain aspects of climate change over the past half century. This court decision flatly rejected industry’s contention that EPA did not have enough scientific information to justify its findings.

On June 29, EPA issued the final Tailoring and Plant-Wide Applicability Limits Rule, affirming that new facilities with GHG emissions of at least 100,000 tons per year (tpy) carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) will continue to be required to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits. CO2e includes: (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Existing facilities that emit 100,000 tpy of CO2e and make changes increasing the GHG emissions by at least 75,000 tpy of CO2e must also obtain PSD permits. Facilities that must obtain a PSD permit, to include other regulated pollutants, must also address GHG emission increases of 75,000 tpy or more of CO2e. New and existing sources with GHG emissions above 100,000 tpy CO2e must also obtain operating permits.

This rule will require existing and new facilities to make major modifications and implement stringent energy efficiency measures to reduce their GHG emissions.

For more information:

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