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SME eNews
Now is the time to register for the Professional Engineering Exam Review Course!
Be sure to sign up for Professional Engineering Review Course and book your hotel room before August 8th! Early bird pricing for registration ends on the 8th and the SME-negotiated rate with the Curtis Hotel also ends on the 8th.

The PE Review Course will be held September 8 to 12, 2012, at the Curtis Hotel in Denver, CO. For more information, click here: P.E. Review Course.
SME announces its newest professional development program: online mentoring
The SME online mentoring program (PDF) is a new member benefit and 100% free to all members. This is a wonderful way to engage with the future generation of mining and minerals professionals. The industry will experience a significant loss of professionals to retirement in the next 5-10 years, and mining schools already suffer from low numbers of instructors and professors. The SME online mentoring program is a inexpensive, easy and effective way to guide and assist young professionals. Additionally, for those new to the industry, students and professionals at the beginning of their career, this is an excellent way to get a step ahead. Even seasoned professionals can benefit from a mentor. Sign up now to be a mentor or a mentee - or both! For more information, click here or contact Mona Vandervoort at vandervoort@smenet.org or 303.948.4227. More information on SME mentoring in general can be found on the SME Community's About Mentoring page.

Get caught looking...
SME is pleased to announce the last of the summer webinar series. Webinars are an effective way to bring you together with others in the industry without travel expense and inconvenience. This program is $45 for a member and $90 for a nonmember. Registration is now open at: https://smenet.webex.com.

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

We have recorded copies of the previous webinars. Details on access to that library and the programs is available at: SME Webinar Archive.

SME Webinar feedback
SME’s Summer Webinar Series is nearing its end, and we would like your feedback to make our next Webinar Series even better. When we decided to start offering webinars, our goal was to be able to provide live and on-demand professional development sessions to our members – that is still our goal! Please take a few moments to tell us what you think of our webinars by taking a brief survey: SME Webinar Survey. Your candid feedback is important to us, whether you participated in any of the Summer Webinar sessions or not. It will help us make our webinars into something that benefits and interests YOU! If you have any questions or would like more information about our Summer Webinar Series live or on-demand sessions, visit our online webinar library or e-mail webinars@smenet.org.

SME announces single sign-on option for www.OneMine.org
SME has implemented a new sign-on option for its members to use to access www.OneMine.org. You no longer have to login to OneMine.org separately. Simply login to www.smenet.org with your membership login, then proceed to the SME home page by clicking on the SME logo in the upper left of the SME welcome page. From the SME home page, click on the “Search OneMine” link from the menu on the left of the page. You will then be taken to the OneMine.org site and automatically logged in and able to search for and download papers on OneMine. For those that have used OneMine.org before, you can still access OneMine by logging directly onto www.OneMine.org. with the login you previously created.

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 Sept. 1, 2012.

Current Trends in Mining Finance - call for presentations
SME (www.smenet.org) will host its first annual conference on Current Trends in Mining Finance in New York City. This two-day conference is intended for senior executives, as well as mining industry specialists among bankers, analysts and investors, and will cover a range of important topics, including general trends in project evaluation and investment decision-making; drivers of future industry mergers and acquisitions; tax and accounting issues facing the mining industry; risk factors in the current market environment; new sources of funding for mining projects; trends in mineral development agreements and the impact of “soft” issues on mine development and finance. This is a unique opportunity to get current on important issues that affect project finance, investment and strategic planning. For details on submitting an abstract see: http://www.smenet.org/page/?id=1048.

April 29-30, 2013
City University of New York, Graduate Center
New York, NY
Browse the SME Foundation used bookstore
Check out the used books section of the SME Foundation website: go to www.smenet.org/foundation and click on the “Used books” button. We have several new contributions for your perusal. Should you find one or two you would like to purchase for your collection, contact us and we will get them right to you! For additional information, contact Nancy Smith, SME Foundation Development Manager, at smith@smenet.org or 303-948-4224.

SME and CIM are pleased to announce the second in a series of Reliability and Safety Conferences: Safety Management & System Reliability
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.
Environmental Considerations in Energy Production – call for papers
April 14-18, 2013, Charleston, WV

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 of energy production on the environment and society. The organizing committee has issued a call for papers. For complete details see: Environmental Considerations in Energy Production.

MINExpo International 2012
MINExpo International is the world's premier mining event. From September 24-26, find every mining-related product, service and technology at the Las Vegas Convention Center. If you are in coal, industrial/nonmetallic minerals, precious metals, ferrous/nonferrous metals, sand, gravel or stone, your company should not miss this once-every-four-years opportunity to be at MINExpo® 2012. Send all of your decision-makers.

More than 1,600 exhibitors will display equipment for all facets of mining - from exploration and surveying, mine site development, excavating, materials handling and haulage, processing and preparation, drilling and safety equipment to computer technologies, replacement parts and engineering, construction and reclamation services - under one roof.

In addition, there are 20 education sessions covering safety, bulk materials handling, exploration, underground and surface mining, maintenance, processing, new mining projects, markets, environmental issues, coal and more.

Prior to August 10, registration is $100. After August 10, it is $200. So register early. See you in Las Vegas, where you can talk face-to-face with experts to get the information you need to guide your buying decisions, find solutions to your particular challenges and build new relationships.

Catch MINExpo fever with Mining Engineering
Visit Mining Engineering Magazine for the latest preshow news on MINExpo, daily news feed, metal prices ticker, online archives and more.
Get the latest iron and steel making research with the August M&MP
Check out the latest issue of SME’s premier peer-reviewed journal, Minerals & Metallurgical Processing, now online at www.smenet.org/mmpj. Articles available to subscribers only but abstracts are free to all.

Two new courses now available!
SME now offers 34 online courses total.

Fundamentals of the Dragline
This self-paced, video hybrid course provides a detailed look at efficient planning and operation of draglines, which is a critical aspect to the majority of surface coal mines throughout the world. Additionally, 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. This course provides an excellent primer on the subject.

Mining Terminology and Methods
This self-paced, video hybrid course explains 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.

Coming soon - Modeling and Simulation of Mineral Processing Systems, 2nd ed.
Quantitative modeling techniques and methods are central to the study and development of process engineering, including mineral processing. Models in mineral processing have been difficult to develop, because of the complexity of the unit operations that are used in virtually all mineral recovery systems. Modeling and Simulation of Mineral Processing Systems covers the field of quantitative modeling of mineral process equipment and uses models to simulate the actual behavior of ore dressing and coal washing equipment in industrial practice. Many examples are included to explain the application of some of the commonly used models, most of which described in the book are included in the ModSim software, the plant-wide simulator that is included on the companion CD. For more information, including how to order, contact books@smenet.org.

SME supports Senate compromise bill on critical minerals
In a July 23 letter (PDF) to Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, SME joined 35 other researchers, manufacturers, consumers, producers and developers of products and technologies that rely upon critical minerals in expressing support for the bipartisan, substitute amendment to S. 1113, the Critical Minerals Policy Act. Specifically, the letter applauds the Senators’ work to address all aspects of the critical minerals supply chain – from surveys and production to research and recycling – and, in particular, to see that additional critical mineral supplies be brought to market as efficiently as possible. SME and other groups, representing over 450,000 scientists, urged the leaders to schedule a markup of the legislation in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and bring it to the floor of the U.S. Senate before this session of Congress ends. Ranking member Murkowski issued a News Release that refers to the SME letter and calls for an immediate full Committee markup of the bill.

CIM Mining Standards and Guidelines Committee monthly newsletter
The first issue of the monthly newsletter for the CIM Mining Standards and Guidelines Committee (MSGC) is now available. It will communicate MSGC’s activities and about global mining standards and operational guidelines. Please visit www.globalminingstandards.org to subscribe to the newsletter and ensure you receive next month's issue!

PwC report shows supply issues to dominate global mining in near future
A new report (PDF) by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mine 2012: The Growing Disconnect – a Review of Global Trends in the Mining Industry, claims the global mining industry is facing a growing disconnect. Despite record profits for the world’s 40 biggest miners in 2011 thanks to high commodity prices, investors proved fickle, demanding greater capital discipline and increased shareholder returns. Against a backdrop of shareholder demands for heightened capital discipline, the story for the future will be about the ability to bring on supply through developing the right projects. PwC continues to observe a structural change of higher average commodity prices which are underwritten by higher production costs and lower grades. However, this does not guarantee increasing gross margins. The Top 40 invested $98 billion in capital projects in 2011 and plan for a further $140 billion for 2012 in an effort to increase supply. The market, however, doesn’t seem to be buying the industry’s long-term growth story, which has sent share prices lower, which, according to PwC, marks the start of the growing disconnect.

U.S. dependence on critical minerals highlighted in new report
Focusing on strategic minerals and metals, the American Resources Policy Network issued a report, Reviewing Risk: Critical Metals and National Security, that notes China supplies more than one in five of the minerals that are vital to America’s commercial and defense sectors, despite the fact that proven U.S. resources exist for 87 percent of these minerals. The report points out that for 43 minerals deemed “critical” and “strategic” by the Department of Defense and other federal agencies, the U.S. is at least 50 percent dependent on foreign supplies. The report was compiled from data from 11 studies by the DOD, the GAO and other federal agencies. It presents an “American Resources Risk Pyramid,” which graphically weighs and segments the 46 most-cited minerals and metals and analyzes U.S. dependence. The report concludes, “The U.S. government desperately needs a coherent national mineral access strategy. We are acutely dependent on foreign supplies of nonfuel minerals and metals that are vital to commercial manufacturing and advanced weapons systems. Our exposure to potential supply disruptions is a profound national security threat.”

Washington Updates

House and Senate take action on stream buffer rule affecting coal mines
During an often contentious oversight hearing on July 19 before the House Natural Resources Committee, Director Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Joseph Pizarchik defended the Administration’s rewrite of the Steam Buffer Zone (SBZ) Rule affecting coal mines. The hearing, part of a year-long Congressional investigation, focused on: 1) the status of both the Interior Department's rewrite of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule and the lawsuit settlement agreement requiring a final rule to be in place last month; and 2) the failure of the Department to comply with official Congressional subpoenas for documents explaining its role in dismissing a contractor hired to help rewrite the rule.

A clearly frustrated Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) said, "Is the Obama Administration now waiting until after the election, when the President will have more 'flexibility,' to release its job-destroying regulation? What is the Administration planning to impose after November that it doesn't want the American people to know about now? ...If the Obama Administration has nothing to hide, then they should comply with our subpoenas and fully answer all questions today from this Committee."

In the Senate on July 26, Indiana Republican Dan Coats introduced (PDF) legislation meant to block EPA’s attempt to issue the SBZ. The Senate bill, which has the support of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and more than a dozen other Republicans, mirrors legislation, H.R. 3409 (PDF), shepherded through the House Natural Resources Committee by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). Johnson and Coats want OSM to scrap the rulemaking and fully enforce a previous rule finalized during the George W. Bush administration. "The federal government already invested five years of environmental analysis to put in place a sensible rule that strikes the right balance between protecting streams and producing an important energy resource," Coats said.

In 2008, the Administration set aside the SBZ Rule, which had taken over five years of environmental and scientific analysis and public comment to complete. The Department then entered into a lawsuit settlement with environmental groups to rewrite the rule by June 29, 2012. The Administration allegedly dismissed the original contractors once it was publicly revealed that the contractor’s final report concluded the proposed SBZ rule could cost 7,000 jobs and cause economic harm in 22 states.

New mine safety bill introduced in the Senate
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller is pushing tougher mine safety legislation than he had previously introduced, in response to a series of reports on the 2010 Upper Big Branch disaster. Rockefeller's new bill, S. 3443 (PDF) , would prohibit mining companies from keeping two sets of record books, as investigators said was the case in Upper Big Branch. It would also impose strict penalties for unsafe ventilation at mines. Rockefeller and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the ranking member on the House Workforce Committee, originally introduced mine safety legislation early last year. Despite numerous hearings on the issue, the bills languished amid complaints that lawmakers needed to wait until the explosion investigations were complete before enacting new laws.

Now that a series of federal, local and independent reports have been completed, top Democrats are calling for swift passage. Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, is a co-sponsor of the new bill. Rockefeller also strengthened requirements in his legislation dealing with black lung disease that would increase monitoring and require MSHA to issue controversial new rules to limit miner exposure to coal dust. He also reintroduced tougher criminal penalties for mine safety violations, new whistle-blower protections and power giving MSHA the ability to subpoena documents or testimony.

It's unclear, however, whether the House will issue a new bill of their own. Rep. Miller introduced a mine safety bill last year. However, many Republicans still wonder whether MSHA needs new powers rather than better enforcement of current laws.

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.

U.S. claims for undersea mining dead for now
Senate Democrats’ hopes of passing the Law of the Sea Treaty ended on July 16, when a pair of Republican Senators announced their opposition, thus bringing to 34 the number of Senators opposed to it. Since at least 2/3 of the 100 member Senate (at least 67 Senators) are required to ratify a treaty, consideration of the treaty is deferred again. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said the Treaty erodes the U.S. sovereignty, both in terms of international arbitration of disputes and the possibility that an international body could impose binding restrictions on the U.S. The Treaty, which includes provisions defining ocean boundaries, would have effectively boosted U.S. access to undersea mineral resources and domestic energy production through an International Seabed Authority. To date, 162 countries and the European Community have either signed or ratified the Treaty. The U.S. is one of 18 countries that have not signed the document.

Legislation introduced to undo transportation offset on AML funding
Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced legislation on July 12 to repeal the limitation of payments from the abandoned mine reclamation trust fund that was included as an offset in the transportation bill (H.R. 4348) that President Obama recently signed into law. That transportation offset would effectively cap at $15 million abandoned coal mine reclamation program payments to states that are certified as having finished cleaning up their priority sites. Annual losses for states with reduced share funding include Wyoming at $70 million a year, Pennsylvania $17.8M, West Virginia $10.2 M, Illinois $5.5M, Kentucky $5.4M, Ohio $3.4M, Indiana $1.8M, Virginia $1.6M and Alabama $1.5M. Other states will also be affected representing an additional $1.5M.

The offset effectively amended 2006 changes to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, a carefully crafted formula for distributing the dollars collected from coal industry taxes. The offset may lead to future raids of the AML Trust Fund for projects not intended as the original purpose of the Fund. Uncertified states like Pennsylvania are in dire need of funding to clean up pollution from abandoned coal mine sites that predate key laws like the Clean Water Act. However, lawmakers from certified states like Wyoming are uncomfortable at the thought of money collected from coal companies in their jurisdictions going elsewhere.

EPA Updates

EPA rebuffed again by court on Appalachian coal mine guidance
On July 31, a federal judge threw out EPA's guidance document for Clean Water Act enforcement of Appalachian coal mining projects and said the agency overstepped its legal bounds. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed with the National Mining Association and several states that EPA's guidance was akin to a final rule, but one that failed to go through the normal rulemaking. The ruling represents the third loss for EPA in district court concerning its oversight of mountaintop-removal mining operations. In another part of the same case, Judge Reggie Walton, who issued this July 31 decision, last year stuck down EPA's enhanced review of certain projects in cooperation with the Corps of Engineers.

"The court is unconvinced by the defendants' arguments in regard to the nonbinding language in the final guidance," Judge Walton wrote. EPA had argued that the guidance, first released in draft form in 2010 and finalized last year, was simply the agency's way of communicating existing laws and policies to regional offices. Of particular concern for the industry was EPA’s reliance on, arguably, unattainable numeric guidelines for water conductivity as a condition of the mine’s water permit.

But NMA and state regulators in West Virginia and Kentucky said EPA was in effect using the guidance to delay or block permits or demand long reviews. Walton sided with their arguments. "The final guidance constitutes final agency action because it is both the consummation of the EPA's decision-making process," Walton wrote, "and even if facially nonbinding, it has been applied by the regional field offices in their review of draft permits in a manner that has had the practical effect of changing the obligations of the state permitting authorities. Therefore the final guidance is a de facto legislative rule."

Walton also ruled that EPA was trying to usurp more permitting authority over coal strip mines than it was granted under the CWA and SMCRA, which is mainly enforced by the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining.

EPA is likely to appeal the case now that both parts are decided. Also pending is an appeal of Judge Amy Berman Jackson's ruling against the agency's retroactive veto of an Arch Coal Inc. strip mine permit in West Virginia. (See below.)

EPA claims authority to veto existing coal mine permit
The Department of Justice maintains in a legal brief filed July 18 that the U.S. EPA's retroactive veto of an Arch Coal mountaintop removal mining project in West Virginia is not unprecedented. The Obama administration is appealing a March ruling by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that said EPA's veto last year of an Army Corps of Engineers 2007 permit for Arch’s Spruce No. 1 mine exceeded the scope of the Clean Water Act. In the brief filed at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, EPA claims it has made "post permit determinations" twice before - in 1981 and 1992 - under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The brief states, “EPA has historically exhibited great restraint in its use of [its veto authority]. In 40 years, the agency has issued only 13 final determinations under [its veto authority], and only 3 of those actions withdrew specifications authorized under active permits.”

At issue in the Spruce case is not whether EPA was right to issue the veto, but whether it had the power to do so retroactively. Other than the mining industry, numerous business groups are seeking to intervene on behalf of Arch Coal. They say allowing an agency to scrap a permit after it is issued would have a chilling effect on commerce and the rule of law. Both sides have agreed to an expedited timeline for the appeals process. Briefs by groups backing EPA are due next month. And Arch's initial brief rebutting EPA's claims is due in September.

EPA’s 2012 TRI National Conference Webinar recordings now available
Good news for anyone who missed April's National Training Conference on TRI – Chemical Right to Know: conference session recordings are now available. Recordings, presentation slides and transcripts are available for all conference sessions, including the opening plenary and lunchtime speakers. This year's conference involved over 80 industry and EPA speakers and covered a wide range of topics, such as the 25th anniversary of EPCRA, trends in TRI data and industry achievements in pollution prevention and toxics reductions. For anyone that is responsible for TRI reporting for their company, these recorded sessions are an invaluable tool that you can turn to as a future reference for chemical reporting.

TRI is a database containing data on disposal or other releases of over 650 toxic chemicals from thousands of U.S. facilities and information about how facilities manage those chemicals through recycling, energy recovery and treatment. Coal, metal and some non-metal mining facilities are required to report chemical usage under TRI.


MSHA Updates

MSHA issues midyear mine fatality statistics
On June 19, MSHA released a midyear summary of mining deaths across the country. During the first half of 2012, 19 miners died in work-related accidents at the nation's mines. In a statement announcing the results, Joe Main, MSHA Assistant Secretary for Labor, said, "While 19 is the second-lowest number of mining deaths recorded in mining midyear, we know that these deaths are preventable. Many mines operate every shift of every day, year in and year out, without a fatality or a lost-time injury."

Among the 10 coal mining deaths, three resulted from slips or falls, two from rib falls and one each from the following categories: exploding vessels under pressure, drowning, handling materials, machinery and electrical. An uncharacteristic trend identified is that five of these fatalities – three involving mine supervisors – occurred on five consecutive weekends. Among nine metal and nonmetal mining deaths, four were attributed to powered haulage incidents, two were the result of a falling face/rib/highwall and one each was linked to an accident involving machinery, falling material and a person falling.

MSHA has taken a number of actions to identify mines with health and safety problems, and has initiated several outreach and enforcement initiatives, including "Rules to Live By," a fatality prevention program highlighting the safety and health standards most frequently cited during fatal accident investigations.

MSHA’s Joe Main claims mine safety improvements
In remarks given on July 16 in Florence, KY before representatives of several Midwest state aggregate associations, MSHA’s Assistant Secretary Joe Main discussed a number of important initiatives and reforms his agency has undertaken over the last two years. Most notably, Main said in 2011 MSHA inspected approximately 14,170 mines and issued 157,613 citations and orders, an eight percent decline in issuances from 2010. The number of significant and substantial citations dropped 12 percent from 2010 to 2011. In 2011, 37 miners died on the job, the second-lowest number since statistics first were recorded in 1900. During the first half of 2012, 19 miners died in work-related accidents at the nation's mines.

MSHA also has increased its emphasis on health issues, noted Main, including the need for mine operators to monitor their employees' exposure to harmful air contaminants by conducting dust, gas, mist and fume surveys to determine the adequacy of control measures. He also discussed changes and improvements in MSHA's Small Mine Consultation Program to make it more efficient and able to work more closely with state aggregate associations. Finally, he outlined several initiatives in which MSHA, aggregate associations and other mining stakeholders have collaborated to advance the health and safety of U.S. miners related to guarding, fall protection, and improvements in enforcement consistency and compliance.

MSHA issues PIB on retreat mining
On July 11, Kevin Stricklin, MSHA’s Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health, issued a program information bulletin on the findings contained in the NIOSH report to Congress relating to the safety of miners working on retreat mining pillar extraction operations, particularly those working under deep cover of more than 300 m (1,000 ft). The 2007 Crandall Canyon mine disaster resulted in the deaths of six miners engaged in coal pillar retreat mining operations under more than 490 m (1,600 ft) of cover. Subsequently, Congress directed NIOSH to conduct a study of the recovery of coal pillars, particularly at depths greater than 460 m (1,500 ft). The NIOSH report, released in 2010, discusses the conditions under which retreat mining is used in the U.S., and the procedures currently used to ensure miner safety during retreat mining. The report also includes recommendations to enhance the safety of miners working where retreat mining is utilized. MSHA will be considering these findings when evaluating roof control plans involving pillar recovery under deep cover. In the PIB, MSHA agrees with the recommendation made in the NIOSH report that operators of deep cover room-and-pillar retreat coal mines should conduct regular burst hazard assessments for any areas where retreat mining is proposed and the depth of cover exceeds 300 m (1,000 ft).

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