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SME eNews
Have you registered for the George A. Fox conference yet?
Registration for the 2013 George A. Fox Conference is now open. Be sure to join us for this exciting one-day conference in New York City on January 22, 2013. Full program details are available online. Seven professional development hours (PDH) are awarded to attendees.

Don’t wait until it’s too late: registration is capped at 384. Register today!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Graduate Center, City University of New York
356 Fifth Ave
New York, NY

Get caught looking............................
Winter Webinar Series......mark your calendar!
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Lucas Moore, sr. research scientist

Kemira Minerals Processing, Atlanta, GA
Removal of inorganic contaminants from mine effluents

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Roderick Eggert, professor and director, Division of Economics and Business

Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
What factors drive metal prices? Historical evidence, 1900-2012

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Yi Luo, associate professor

Dept., Mining Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Locating and determining the status of a thermal event in longwall panel using mine atmosphere monitoring data

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Vishal Gupta, research engineer

FLSmidth Minerals Inc., Midvale, UT
Electrokinetic feature of kaolinite and other selected two layer silicate minerals

For complete information, go to SME Webinars page.

Miss a program? It’s not too late to watch. The complete library of past webinar series is available via video download. For complete details, click here.

Look for the 2013 proxy in the mail and online
In 2013, the Annual Meeting of Members will be held immediately following the conclusion of the SME Board of Directors Meeting on Sunday, February 24, 2013, 4:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Convention Center, Denver, CO.

At this meeting, 2012 President, Drew A. Meyer, will report on the Society’s activities, its state, its concerns and its financial condition. Jessica Elzea Kogel will be installed as the 2013 President and, upon election by the membership entitled to vote, the following directors shall take office:

John O. Marsden. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . President-Elect
Steven C. Holmes . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . Director-at-Large
Mary B. Korpi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Director-at-Large

A proxy will be sent to you via mail in the next several weeks. In the event you will not be attending the Meeting of Members, please sign, date and return your mail ballot/proxy. You may also vote online at Online voting began on Friday, January 4, 2013. Your prompt response is appreciated.

Round up some SME books
The SME Bookstore is traveling to Vancouver for the Annual Mineral Exploration BC’s 30th Annual Mineral Exploration Roundup Conference from January 28th to January 31st. Great opportunity to get our books at show pricing and NO shipping. Don’t miss this chance to update your library. We are bringing 900 books, including many new titles. Jane Olivier and Carol Kiser will see you at the Roundup in the Mackenzie Room.

Last chance to enter the MPD Student Poster contest!
Minerals & Metallurgical Processing, SME’s premier international peer-reviewed journal, has again teamed up with SME's Mineral and Metallurgical Processing Division for the MPD Student Poster Contest, to be held in conjunction with the 2013 SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit in Denver, CO.

Details of the contest can be found here: MPD Student Poster contest.

Abstracts and posters must conform to the guidelines posted here (PDF) and be submitted to Jon Kellar, MPD Student Poster Contest Chair, via e-mail to by Tuesday, January 15, 2013.
Minerals & Metallurgical Processing featured abstract
From our November issue: Lulea University of Technology and LKAB team up to explore the effect of process water on the concentration of magnetite ore in the article, “Impact of process water on the surface properties of magnetite as measured by the zeta potential and through leaching experiments.”

M&MP will have two feature issues in 2013, including the highly-anticipated Rare-Earth Minerals issue in February, featuring the latest research from Jan Miller, Douglas Fuerstenau, Pradip and other luminaries.

January Mining Engineering is
now online!
Come visit MEOnline to read daily news articles, browse the Mining Engineering archives and flip through the latest issue of your flagship magazine.
Get involved with SME’s newest professional development program
The SME Online Mentoring program 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. Mining schools are already suffering from low numbers of instructors and professors. The SME online mentoring program is an 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! Be a mentor or a mentee or both!

Register today!
2013 SME Annual Meeting & Exhibit and CMA 115th National Western Mining Conference
February 24-27, 2013
Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO

Complete meeting details, including registration, housing, program, short courses and field trips are available NOW.

Register today! There is only slightly over a month left to take advantage of the early bird registration pricing for the SME Annual Meeting and Exhibit in Denver, CO. We are up by 37% for registrations and booth space is close to sold out; the 2013 Annual Meeting promises to be a conference you won’t want to miss!

Get a hotel room today! Make sure you aren’t without a place to stay! Rooms are filling up fast. If you haven’t booked your hotel room for the SME/CMA Annual Meeting and Exhibit, book now.

Elearning courses available for all your needs and interests
SME is pleased to introduce course offerings in partnership with EduMine. Courses include:
  • Blast Design and Assessment for Surface Mines and Quarries
  • An Introduction to Mining and Mineral Processing
  • Mine Project Economics
  • Practical Mineral Processing
  • Mineral Project Management
  • Estimating the Cost of Mining
  • Underground Mining Methods and Equipment
  • Conventional Methods of Resource / Reserve Estimation
  • Quality Control of Geochemical and Assay Samples
  • Design and Operation of Large Waste Dumps
  • Exploration and Mining Geology 1 - The Geologic Baseline
  • Introduction to Block Caving
  • Bench Face Design in Rock
  • Groundwater in Mining
  • Practical Geostatistics 2000 - 1: Classical Statistics
  • Practical Rock Engineering 1 - Introduction
  • Mineral Project Reporting Under NI 43-101
  • Geostatistics 101 - A Practical Introduction
  • Managing the Environmental Permitting Process
  • Global Acid Rock Drainage
SME offers 55 online courses total. For a complete catalog, see:

Current Trends in Mining Finance
April 29-30, 2013
City University of New York,
Graduate Center
New York, NY
For more information, including the conference agenda, click here.
Need a quote for business insurance?
The Wright Group has negotiated an SME exclusive Professional Liability program with Beazley Insurance Company for SME members and continues to use its insurance expertise to assist SME members in obtaining the most appropriate and cost-effective insurance policies. Click here for the company brochure. For more information, contact Allan Crumbaker at the Wright Group,, 303-228-2205.

BLM won't allow new mining claims on large swaths set for solar energy
On December 14, the BLM announced in the Federal Register that it will set aside more than 300,000 acres in the Southwest from new mining claims for at least 20 years, a move that's designed to facilitate fast-tracked solar energy development in the region. A 90-day public comment period ends in March 2013. The 303,900 acres at issue are composed mostly of the 17 newly established solar energy zones (SEZs) in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The goal of the 20-year segregation is to prevent new mining claims on the lands in question that could interfere with anticipated large-scale solar-power development. Most of the public land to be withdrawn in the latest proposal is in California, covering more than 165,000 acres, followed by Nevada with 65,000 acres and New Mexico with 30,706 acres.

The latest withdrawal proposal would amend an interim rule adopted in April 2011 that granted BLM authority to impose a two-year ban on new mining claims on lands included in a renewable energy right-of-way application or areas offered for wind or solar energy leases. BLM used the rule two months later to temporarily withdraw 677,000 acres in the six states from mining claims for two years, or until June 2013, while it evaluated the merits of establishing as many as 24 proposed SEZs. The BLM had set aside the 677,000 acres two years earlier while it studied the solar zones.

The amended proposal reopens mining claims on 373,852 acres that had been off-limits for the past couple of years while BLM studied the original 24 SEZs.

While the land withdrawals would not affect valid existing mining claims in the area that are protected under the General Mining Act of 1872, mining companies have complained in recent years about what they see as a proliferation of withdrawals of public land. The National Mining Association said a review of the lands proposed to be withdrawn did not raise any "red flags" for the industry. The increase in the length of withdrawal to 20 years, however, "is of concern.”

Washington Updates

House leaders threaten EPA subpoena for Pebble documents
On January 3, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote (PDF) to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson saying they would consider using the panel's "compulsory process" to obtain the information regarding the agency’s review of the proposed Pebble Project in Alaska. The lawmakers gave the agency until January 17 to comply.
"Nearly seven months after the original letter's response due date, EPA has failed to provide the Committee with a majority of requested documents despite the Committee's efforts to assist EPA in focusing and narrowing its request," wrote Issa and Jordan. "The pace of EPA's production appears to be an attempt to obstruct the Committee's legitimate oversight of EPA's actions regarding Bristol Bay." Their letter also asks that EPA make certain senior staff members available for transcribed interviews, including acting water chief Nancy Stoner and Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran.

EPA for months has been conducting a watershed assessment of the Bristol Bay area amid concerns over Pebble’s potential gold and copper mine there. In November, EPA released a report by independent peer reviewers, who asked the agency to provide a better scientific basis for its findings. Issa and Jordan want internal and decision-making papers about the watershed assessment, which has the support of fishermen and environmentalists, who hope the agency blocks or limits the mine's scope. State-level litigation is ongoing over a local ballot measure meant to stop the Pebble mine. Opponents are also collecting signatures for a statewide 2014 ballot initiative to require legislative approval for the mine.

Senate Natural Resources leaders press Interior on coal royalty payments
Incoming Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) are questioning whether the Interior Department is doing enough to collect royalties from companies that mine coal on federal lands. Their January 3 letter (PDF) to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar follows reports that taxpayers could be losing millions of dollars every year from outdated regulatory systems.

"As companies seek to ship more coal overseas," the senators wrote, "taxpayers must be confident that the Bureau of Land Management and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue have stringent royalty collection and auditing controls in place as coal markets become increasingly oriented toward international buyers."

Last year, environmental groups touted a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis that found the Bureau of Land Management had missed out on $28.9 billion in revenue over the previous three decades.

The Reuters news service followed up with an investigation of its own, which found companies may be using affiliates to take advantage of low royalties and sell the coal at higher overseas prices.

A news release by the senators noted that coal royalties to the federal government and Native American tribes have more than doubled, to $898 million, between 2001 and 2011. They say coal royalties account for 21 percent of federal onshore revenues and 13 percent of tribal royalty revenues.

Mining companies defend royalty and other payments to the government and say increased coal exports will promote economic recovery.

Coal News

EIA forecasts increased coal consumption, lower production in 2013
On January 8, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Short-Term Energy Outlook for 2013-’14. The EIA expects coal consumption in the electric power sector, which fell from 1,045 million short tons (MMst) in 2007 to 829 MMst in 2012, to increase by 18 MMst in 2013 as natural gas prices rise relative to coal prices. However, lower coal exports and inventory draws in 2013 contribute to a 37 MMst (3.6 percent) decline in coal production. Forecast increases in electricity generation and coal exports in 2014 are met by a 30 MMst increase in coal production next year. EIA expects the coal share of total electricity generation to rise from 37.6 percent in 2012 to 39.0 percent in 2013 and 39.6 percent in 2014, as natural gas prices rise relative to coal prices. Lower-than-projected natural gas prices, along with the industry's response to future environmental regulations, could cause the coal share of total generation to fall below this forecast. To view the full report, go to:

Coal consumption to rise globally despite drop in U.S.
Cheap shale gas is significantly reducing coal demand in the United States, but global coal consumption is still expected to rise 2.6 percent annually by 2017, according to the International Energy Agency’s Medium-Term Coal Market Report. Coal consumption will climb to 4.32 billion tons of oil equivalent by 2017, nearly matching oil consumption of about 4.4 billion.

"Coal's share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year, and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade," said Maria van der Hoeven, IEA's executive director.

Demand for coal rose 4.3 percent last year, with China accounting for 67 percent of the increase and replacing Japan as the largest importer, the report says. Countries outside the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development are expected to drive growth, with an annual increase of 3.9 percent. Within the OECD, coal use will drop by 0.7 percent a year, led by a 2.5 percent drop in U.S. demand per year to 600 million metric tons in 2017, driven mainly by inexpensive natural gas.

Total world consumption of coal will be 6.17 billion tons in 2017, up from 5.28 billion last year, the report forecasts. The world will burn around 1.2 billion more tons of coal per year by 2017 compared to today, equivalent to the current coal consumption of Russia and the U.S. combined. China will account for 70 percent of the growth in coal demand over the next five years, while India will make up 22 percent, the report says.

"India becomes the second-largest coal consumer and the largest coal importer in the world," van der Hoeven said. "Together, by 2017, China and India represent more than one-third of global coal imports and two-thirds of global coal demand. It's clear that the Chinese and Indian coal market decisions will have an impact on our electricity bills."

India's coal demand will increase by 6.3 percent per year to 643 million tons by 2017, IEA said. Australia will become the world's largest coal exporter by 2017, shipping 356 million tons of coal equivalent, the report says. The U.S. shale gas revolution led to more exports of coal from the United States, reducing prices. In turn, this caused an increase in coal use in Europe, but the IEA expects this to stop in 2013 and slowly decline after that.

The IEA Medium-Term Coal Market Report is available for purchase from IEA.

EPA News

EPA head Lisa Jackson to step down
On December 27, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson submitted her resignation to the president, after four years at the helm of the environmental agency.

EPA issued a fact sheet chronicling what it called the "milestones" of the Jackson era. Highlights included the first greenhouse gas regulations, new vehicle fuel economy standards and the new air standards for industrial boilers, incinerators and cement kilns announced last week. Jackson acknowledged that climate change was initially the top priority -- a situation that changed when carbon cap-and-trade legislation stalled in Congress.

In a statement, President Obama said Jackson has shown "unwavering commitment to the health of our families and our children" during her term of office. Under her leadership, the agency has taken "sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink," he added.

From an industry perspective, Jackson’s reign will be remembered for implementing highly restrictive regulations on coal-fired power plants that led to a groundswell of opposition to what was called the administration’s “war on coal.” Further, a recent EPA proposal to tighten dust standards for fine particles will have a lasting impact on the minerals industry, as additional, often duplicative control technologies must be designed into various fine-grind processing plants. No names have been publicly floated by the Administration as a possible replacement for Jackson, although Gina McCarthy, head of EPA’s air and radiation office, is a likely candidate. Other possibilities include Kathleen McGinty, former secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and former chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality under President Clinton. Mary Nichols, the head of California’s Air Resources Board, is another veteran of Clinton’s EPA and would signal Obama’s continued focus on air quality. Finally, former Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire is said to be on the Administration’s short list due to her public leadership stance on climate change. Gregoire previously held the posts of State Director of the Dept. of Ecology and State Attorney General.

New EPA memo clarifies legal protections for Good Samaritan mine cleanups
On December 12, the US EPA issued guidance (PDF) aimed at protecting volunteer groups that help clean up abandoned mine sites from lawsuits and the need to follow certain environmental laws. The guidance -- what EPA describes as a nonbinding policy explanation -- allows extended periods for water monitoring and makes clear that Good Samaritan groups aren't responsible for obtaining Clean Water Act permits.

In 2007, EPA released guidance to help such groups navigate the legal maze created by the Superfund law. The latest document is aimed at easing the legal concerns of cleanup groups, particularly lingering Clean Water Act issues. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) had previously championed legislation to that effect, but many Democrats worried about reopening discussions that might lead to a weakening of Clean Water Act protections.

Environmentalists and EPA have tried to encourage Good Samaritans without opening loopholes that bypass a company’s responsibilities for the required cleanups. The new guidance says, "This memo applies only to situations where parties have no relationship with, responsibility to, and/or liability for any existing pollution at the site, except for their actions taken as a Good Samaritan as described in the 2007 guidance."

Mining reform advocates welcomed the new guidance, but called for a revenue stream for cleaning up abandoned hardrock mines. The Obama administration and supportive lawmakers on Capitol Hill have proposed a new fee on hardrock mines to fund reclamation efforts. The coal industry already pays such a fee for its own abandoned mines. Lawmakers have also called for passage of legislation to free up coal reclamation dollars for non-coal mine cleanups as a stopgap measure.

EPA lowers dust standards for fine particles
On December 14, the EPA significantly tightened air standards for fine particles that come from coal-fired power plants, fine-grind mineral plants, drilling operations, diesel engines, auto tailpipes and boilers. EPA finalized new national ambient air quality standards for fine particles, or PM 2.5, lowering the limit from 15 micrograms per cubic meter averaged over a year to 12 micrograms. EPA's current standards have been in place since 1997. EPA didn't make any revisions to the 24-hour fine particle standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

The PM 2.5 standards were forced by the December 14 court-ordered deadline and were closely watched for signs of how aggressive EPA would be in Obama's second term. In 2006, the Bush Administration let the 1997 standard remain in effect, despite recommendations from the agency's science advisers that it was insufficient to protect public health. The standard was thrown out by a federal court three years later, and EPA set an October 2011 deadline for new regulations. When the agency missed the deadline, several states and public health brought a lawsuit to force action.

EPA has identified 66 counties that will violate the 12-microgram standard. The estimated annual costs of implementing the rule is between $53 million to $350 million.


Mining industry finishes 2012 with lowest fatalities since 2009
Preliminary data (PDF) from MSHA indicates that 36 miners lost their lives in fatal accidents in 2012; 17 in metal/nonmetal and 19 in coal. This is the second lowest level of recorded fatalities compared to 2009, when there were 35 fatalities. Year-over-year record improvements in safety performance were tragically interrupted in 2006 and again in 2010 with mine disasters at Crandall Canyon and Upper Big Branch mines, respectively. SME recognizes that employee safety and health is of paramount importance to the mining industry and the families of our workers. SME is committed to improving the safety and health of the mining industry’s workforce by encouraging companies to consider implementing a proactive occupational health program and a safety management system.

MSHA issues 2013 regulatory agenda
On December 27, 2012 MSHA issued its semi-annual regulatory agenda, which includes proposed and final agency actions scheduled for 2013. Agency actions include: a January Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for criteria and procedures for proposed assessment of civil penalties; a January Final Rule on pattern of violations; a March request for information for Refuge Alternatives for Underground Coal Mines; a June Final Rule on lowering miners' exposure to coal mine dust, including continuous personal dust monitors; a July Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on proximity detection systems for mobile machines in underground mines; an August Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on crystalline silica, and more. Of these, the notice of proposed rulemaking on crystalline silica represents the one action with far-reaching implications for the mining industry and other “dusty trades.” The metal and nonmetal mining industry silica standard is based on the 1973 ACGIH Threshold Limit Values formula: 10 mg/m3 divided by the percentage of quartz plus 2. Overexposure to crystalline silica can result in some miners developing silicosis, an irreversible but preventable lung disease, which ultimately may be fatal. The formula is designed to limit exposures to 0.1 mg/m3 (100 ug) of silica. NIOSH recommends a 50 ug/m3 exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica. It is widely expected that MSHA will follow ACGIH and NIOSH’s recommendations in proposing a tighter silica standard.

MSHA raises civil penalty assessments for inflation
Effective January 28, 2013, MSHA is revising its civil penalty assessment amounts to adjust for inflation. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 requires the Agency to adjust civil penalties for inflation at least once every four years. Revised penalties apply to citations and orders issued on or after the effective date of this rule. MSHA last adjusted its civil penalties for inflation in 2008.

The Inflation Adjustment Act only requires that the cost-of-living adjustment and rounding formula be applied to penalties that were statutorily established by Congress. The Mine Act contains eight statutory penalties. Consequently, MSHA applied the formula to its statutory civil penalties in 30 CFR Part 100 and is adjusting the maximum penalty for failure to provide timely notification to the Secretary under section 103(j) of the Mine Act, in Sec. 100.4(c), from $60,000 to $65,000. In addition, MSHA is increasing the maximum penalty for flagrant violations under Section 110(b)(2) of the Mine Act, in Sec. 100.5(e), from $220,000 to $242,000.

Applying the formula to the remaining statutory civil penalties, regarding the maximum civil penalty for regular assessments in Sec. 100.3(a)(1), the two minimum penalties for unwarrantable failure violations in Sec. 100.4(a) and (b), the minimum penalty for failure to timely report accidents in Sec. 100.4(c), maximum daily penalty in Sec. 100.5(c), and the maximum smoking penalty in Sec. 100.5(d), did not result in inflation adjustments, because the increases under the inflation adjustment formula were rounded to zero pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act's rounding rules.

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