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


See you there! If you are not registered, you may do so onsite.

Download the Official 2013 SME Annual Meeting Smartphone App:

Free membership!
If are you attending the 2013 SME Annual Meeting in Denver and are not yet an SME Member, you could qualify for a FREE MEMBERSHIP! Annual Meeting registrants who sign up for the full conference at nonmember rates will receive a free SME membership as part of your package. Check your mail and email for details on how you can take advantage of this special offer - a $146 value, FREE! See you in Denver!
Free book!
If you are attending the 2013 SME Annual Meeting and sign up as a nonmember exhibitor or author, you will receive a free book when you join SME! Become a member of SME for just $146 and you can choose a free book. Choose one - either the Dictionary of Mining Terms or Management of Mineral Resources - a $70 value! Check your mail and email for details on this special offer. See you in Denver!

Don’t miss a special announcement at this year’s Keynote Session!
Please join the SME Foundation at the SME Annual Meeting Keynote Session on Monday, February 25, at 8:30 a.m. at the Colorado Convention Center. Red Conger and Rick Whiting will be making the largest announcement in the history of the Foundation! Come find out how you can become “The Key” to creating global prosperity!

Copper in Our Electric World video
SME has collaborated with the Edison Tech Center of Schenectady, NY to produce an impressive video, Copper in our Electrical World, which will have its premier showing at SME’s Annual Meeting on Monday, February 25 at the Minerals Education Coalition’s Technical Session from 2:00 - 4:00 in the Convention Center, Room 109.

Our video tells the story of how copper deposits were formed, copper’s unique properties that make it so versatile and valuable, how it is mined and processed and the variety of products that contain copper – products which are essential to our everyday lives and lifestyles.
2013 NSSGA/SME Student Design Competition - correction
The top six winning teams from Phase 1 of the NSSGA/SME Student Design Competition were incorrectly identified in the January 24 and February 7 issues of SME Enews. The correct winning teams for Phase 1 are:
  1. McGill University
  2. Université Laval - WMC
  3. Virginia Tech – Jagstone
  4. Virginia Tech – Daily Grind
  5. University of Alaska, Fairbanks – Pilgrim Aggregates
  6. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology – Hardrocker Aggregates
Congratulations to the winning teams!

2013 Annual Meeting highlights
Record-breaking exhibit
818 booths, 589 exhibiting companies, 290,000 sq feet of exhibit space. Come to the industry marketplace and see the most innovative and progressive companies in business.

96 technical sessions
Choose from Coal & Energy, Environmental, Geology, Industrial Minerals & Aggregates, Innovation in Mineral Processing, International, Mineral and Metallurgical Processing, Mining & Exploration, Underground Construction, Valuation and much more. Visit the 2013 Official Showguide for complete details.

Keynote Session
Doug Lamborn, Congressman (R-CO), Chair House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources
Nigel Middleton, Colorado School of Mines
Cy Butner, Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Sciences
Leigh Freeman, General Manager, Downing Teal
Elaine Cullen, Vice President, Safety Solutions International
Gwenne Henricks, Vice President, Caterpillar, Inc.
Andrew Slentz, Senior Vice President Global Human Resources, Peabody Energy
Bill MacGowan, Executive Vice President Human Resources and Communications, Newmont Mining Corporation

Colorado Mining Association Program
This year’s conference focuses on the contributions of the mining and minerals industries to the Colorado economy.

Call for nominations – Muir-Wood Lecture
The International Tunnelling Association (ITA) has issued a call for nominations for the fifth Muir-Wood Lecture, to be delivered in Brazil in 2014. Each ITA Member Nation will submit at least one candidate to the ITA for consideration. Candidates can come from any part of the tunneling and underground space community -- owner, engineer, contractor, lawyer, architect, industry or academia.

The Nominee will be chosen based on a Curriculum Vitae (CV) that shows his or her ability to represent the Muir “spirit:” insisting on innovation, strategy, research and original and influential thinking in the world of underground space.

We are asking for your input on candidates for nomination, which we will then vote on to determine our final nomination to submit to ITA for consideration. Please consider the following information as you consider possible nominees.

Sir Alan Muir-Wood was one of Britain’s most eminent engineers. He played a leading role in many of the 20th century’s great tunneling projects. Following his death in 2009, the International Tunnelling Association (ITA) created the Muir-Wood Lecture. It is delivered every year at the World Tunnel Congress.

Sir Alan Muir-Wood combined technical brilliance with a strong sense of the practical. He insisted on the importance of applying scientific principles to engineering design. He pioneered what became known as the “observational method” -- the precise analysis of the way in which the ground behaves during the engineering process and modifying the process accordingly.

Muir-Wood would say throughout his career that innovation in tunneling has been a key to economy and safety. Successful tunneling depends on management of uncertainty of the ground and how it may affect a specific scheme of construction within a specific project. And he emphasized that uncertainty is a feature that is unavoidable in tunneling. But it can be understood and controlled so that it does not cause damaging risk.

The chosen candidate will present a 45-minute lecture during the opening ceremony of the World Tunnel Congress. It will be published as an ITA report and possible video.
The ITA will pay for three nights of accommodation and transportation.

Submit nominees’ CV and a one-page statement of why the nominee is deserving of this recognition. Send nominations for the Muir-Wood Lecture to Mary O’Shea at SME, oshea@smenet.org, by March 4, 2013. She will forward them to the UCA Executive Committee for consideration.

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing featured abstract
From our February issue: Pradip and Douglas Fuerstenau design new flotation reagents for the ore at Mountain Pass mine: Design and development of novel flotation reagents for the beneficiation of Mountain Pass rare-earth ore.

Subscribe today to access the Rare-Earth Minerals issue, featuring the latest research from Jan Miller, Douglas Fuerstenau, Pradip and other luminaries.

SME eLearning - new course launched!
SME is pleased to introduce a new eLeaning course:

Amalgam and Electrometallurgy
Author: Fathi Habashi
Published by Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Training time: approximately 4.5 hours
4.5 Professional Development Hours (PDH)

Online delivery: upon purchase, you will be emailed access instructions and a receipt.
• Members: $210.00 USD
• Students: $175.00 USD
• Nonmembers: $250.00 USD

This course outlines the historical background of electrometallurgy, defines the scope of this domain and recalls the basic theories of electrochemistry and some general engineering aspects. The course then discusses electrometallurgical processes conducted in aqueous solutions and fused salts, either for metal recovery or metal refining. You will learn how amalgam metallurgy has some points in common with electrometallurgy (like the use of the mercury cathode), but is also of special historical interest, since mercury was used for many centuries for the recovery of gold from its ores. However, due to its toxic nature and the difficulties in handling, its use has been greatly curtailed in industrialized countries. It is still used in most tropical countries, with tremendous environmental problems.

For a complete eLearning catalog, see: www.smenet.org/store/?productCategory=STO.

When: April 29-30, 2013
Where: City University of New York, Graduate Center
New York, NY
Who: Senior executives and mining industry specialists among bankers, analysts and investors

SME will host its first annual conference on Current Trends in Mining Finance in New York City. This two-day conference 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.

Registration now open! Complete meeting details available at: http://www.smenet.org/page/?id=1049

Get caught looking............................
Winter Webinar Series......mark your calendar!
MARCH
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

2:00 p.m. MDT
Vishal Gupta, research engineer
FLSmidth Minerals Inc., Midvale, UT
Electrokinetic features of kaolinite and other selected two-layer silicate minerals

APRIL
Tuesday, April 23, 2013

9:00 a.m. MDT
Yi Luo, associate professor
Dept., Mining Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Locating and determining the status of a thermal event in a longwall panel using mine atmosphere monitoring data

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.

Enroll now to take advantage of SME’s Online Mentoring Program
Have you checked out our new online mentoring program? This is a wonderful way to engage with the future generation of mining and minerals professionals. The SME online mentoring program is an inexpensive, easy and effective way to guide and assist young professionals.Everyone is encouraged to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to be a mentor or mentee. The new online mentor program will enhance the present onsite mentor program. The Mentoring Meeting Place will be held on Sunday, February 24, from 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center during the SME/CMA Annual Meeting. This meeting time will provide a venue for Mentors and Mentees to meet in person.
Even seasoned professionals can benefit from a mentor. Be a mentor or mentee or both!

http://community.smenet.org/SMENET/Mentoring/AboutMentorMatch/.
Environmental Considerations In Energy Production
April 14-18, 2013
Charleston Marriott
Charleston, WV




Complete conference information available here: www.smenet.org/page/index.cfm?id=1005.

Obama’s pick for Interior shares conservation and industry views
On February 6, President Obama announced that REI chief Sally Jewell will be nominated to become the 51st secretary of the Interior. Jewell, who has led the outdoor retailer since 2005, was a surprise pick to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who plans to depart by the end of next month. Jewell, who began her career as a petroleum engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation in Oklahoma and has never held a major public office, is a relative unknown on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers today said they will seek answers on how she would run the $12 billion agency, which handles everything from mining on public lands to oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to American Indian trust lands and conservation. In the hyperpartisan Senate, Jewell's past affiliation with environmental groups could be a liability as she begins what is often a bruising confirmation process.

Office of Surface Mining proposes rule to protect states’ use of AML funds
On February 6, the Office of Surface Mining proposed a new rule to protect certain states and tribes from liability when cleaning up abandoned hardrock mines. The long-awaited proposal provides states and tribes that are certified to have finished cleaning up their abandoned coal sites with more leeway in using federal dollars for non-coal cleanups. The coal industry pays a fee for helping reclaim abandoned mines under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. While "certified" states can use their grant funding for hardrock cleanups, current policy doesn't extend certain liability protections.

The only jurisdictions certified to have finished cleaning up the high-priority abandoned coal sites are Louisiana, Montana, Texas and Wyoming, and certain tribes. They still get coal reclamation dollars because of fees paid from local mining and a formula that dates back to 2006. The Obama administration would rather end payments to certified states and tribes and create a new fee on the hardrock industry for its own cleanups.

Separately, the New Mexico delegation, with support from Colorado lawmakers, reintroduced legislation to free coal AML dollars for hardrock cleanups in uncertified states like New Mexico, which have not finished reclaiming high-priority abandoned coal mines but also have pressing hardrock sites.

In December, at the urging of Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), EPA released a memo meant to protect independent “Good Samaritan” groups from liability when helping clean up abandoned hardrock mines under the Superfund law.

Washington Updates

Critical and strategic minerals bill reintroduced in House
On Feb 15, Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV), along with 28 original bipartisan cosponsors, introduced H.R. 761, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013, that requires the Dept. of Interior and Dept. of Agriculture to more efficiently develop strategic and critical minerals, such as rare earth elements, that, according to the Congressman’s press release, are vital to job creation, American economic competitiveness and national security. The bill (PDF) streamlines the permitting process for mineral development by coordinating the actions of federal, state, local and tribal agencies to reduce delay while ensuring the environmental review process. A nearly identical piece of legislation introduced by Amodei - former president of the Nevada Mining Association - passed the House in the 112th Congress by a bipartisan vote of 256-160 with the support of the entire Nevada Congressional delegation.

Resolution Copper land swap bill reintroduced in House
On February 14, a bipartisan group of Arizona House and Senate lawmakers reintroduced legislation to make way for Resolution Copper Mining LLC - a joint venture between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton - to swap more than 2,000 acres of federal forestland for more than 5,000 of its own acres. Mining company executives say the site near Superior, AZ, could provide 25 percent of the U.S. copper needs.

Arizona Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) and Paul Gosar (R) joined other GOP members from the state in introducing H.R. 687, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, which has for years failed to make it through Congress. In the Senate, Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and newly elected member Jeff Flake are backing the legislation.

Opponents, particularly Arizona Democrats like Rep. Raul Grijalva, have questioned the company's job creation claims and the deal's environmental benefits. They also oppose a congressionally mandated swap, instead backing environmental reviews before any land deal can take place.

While legislation supporting the land swap, H.R. 1904 (PDF), passed the House in 2011, the measure languished in the Senate. Last year, the company said it was forced to announce layoffs.

Sen. Manchin to chair new mining subcommittee
On Feb 14, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Democrats gave the public lands subcommittee chairmanship to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Manchin takes the Public Lands, Forests and Mining Subcommittee chair from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who now chairs the full committee. Not only does the chairmanship help Manchin gain in profile, but the panel now will carry "mining" in its name.

Manchin, a top coal industry booster and defender of mining in his home state, will also be overseeing a host of public lands issues important to lawmakers in Western states. Others on the subcommittee include Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mark Udall (D-CO), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Dean Heller (R-NV), who are well-versed in mining and Western issues. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming is the ranking Republican.

The full committee's top Republican, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), said of Manchin's appointment, "I look forward to working with him to advance sound policies on public lands and mining issues that will benefit not only West Virginia and my own home state of Alaska, but all of the West."

Sen. Murkowski issues blueprint for action on energy and minerals
On February 4, in an effort to jumpstart discussions on possible legislation regarding critical minerals and energy strategies, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued a long-term energy blueprint (PDF). Specifically, Murkowski calls for streamlining permitting to facilitate exploration and production of critical minerals; conducting R&D on use and recycling of and alternatives to critical minerals; undertake annual reviews of domestic mineral production and consumption; provide for workforce assessments, curriculum development, worker training and grants to academic institutions; and promote international cooperation with allies on critical mineral supply chain issues. For coal, the blueprint calls for a prohibition on preemptive and retroactive vetoes of mining project permits; eliminating duplicative requirements under the SMCRA and NEPA; encourage coal exports to ensure that global coal supplies are responsibly mined in the U.S.

These issues mirror legislation that Murkowski has said she will reintroduce this Congress. It has been almost a year since the Obama administration joined the European Union and Japan in pushing for World Trade Organization talks over Chinese export controls of rare earth elements. That development helped bring the broader critical materials issue to the forefront, but the immediacy that once surrounded the issue appears to be fading.

House bill introduced to stop mountaintop mining - again
Two dozen House Democrats introduced legislation February 6 to implement a moratorium on mountaintop-removal coal mining. The "Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act," H.R. 526 (PDF), would stop the practice until the secretary of Health and Human Services can vouch for its safety. The bill would also charge certain mining companies a fee to help pay for a federal study on mountaintop mining. Democratic Reps. John Yarmuth (KY) and Louise Slaughter (NY), who is a native of the Kentucky coal fields, are the bill's main backers, along with 22 co-sponsors.

The legislation cites recent studies suggesting a link between mountaintop removal and poor health in Appalachian communities. The legislation would mandate continuous health and environmental monitoring for mountaintop-removal mines. Violations could put a company's permit in jeopardy. The legislation faces a tough road on Capitol Hill. A similar bill last year, backed by former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), failed to gain much traction. Neither did a similar bill by New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone (D).

House bill would prevent EPA use of veto authority for mine permits
On February 6, several coal state lawmakers introduced legislation to prevent EPA from blocking certain Clean Water Act permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. The new bill, H.R. 524 (PDF), from West Virginia Reps. David McKinley (R), Shelley Moore Capito (R) and Nick Rahall (D), among several other lawmakers, would bar EPA from vetoing the permits retroactively. At issue are the agency's Section 404 dredge-and-fill permits, which the agency can issue with EPA concurrence. West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's agenda for the year includes similar legislation. And the National Mining Association has said Clean Water Act permit reform is among its top priorities. The bills and pending legal action stem from EPA's retroactive permit veto for an Arch Coal Inc. mountaintop-removal mine in West Virginia. The Army Corps had originally issued the permit in 2007. Litigation over the retroactive veto, which a U.S. district judge has called illegal, is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Oral arguments are set for March 14.

Coal News

Dept of Interior investigates coal royalties
The Interior Department has developed an action plan and convened a task force in response to concerns about the amount of royalties it collects from companies mining federal coal. The news came in a letter (PDF) February 7 to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and top Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. The senators had expressed concerns about reports that Interior was undercharging coal companies, especially if they sell the coal for a higher price overseas.

Last year, environmental groups touted a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis that found the BLM 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.

In response, Interior said it will fast-track reviews of recent coal sales to include sales summaries and contracts from between 2009 and 2011. The probes will be done more quickly than typical audits. Interior also promises to review old coal sales for misreporting or other legal or regulatory violations. And the Office of Inspector General will review allegations of wrongdoing. Also, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue is studying whether to change coal valuation from federal and American Indian tracts.

Companies mined more than 460 million tons of coal from federal land in fiscal 2012 that generated over $875 million in royalty revenues, which are split between states and the federal government. Revenues were almost $7 billion between 2003 and 2012. Click here (PDF) for a summary of 2012 coal royalties from Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

EPA Updates

EPA to revise watershed assessment, allow more public comment
The EPA announced it is revamping its controversial review of the Pebble Project’s potential impacts on southwestern Alaska's waterways and fisheries and submitting it for additional scientific peer review and public comment. In a report last year, 12 experts asked EPA to revise its May draft of the watershed assessment, which said that a mine like Pebble LP's potential gold and copper project would likely jeopardize salmon habitats. The peer review panel expressed concerns about the hypothetical mine scenario and the scope of the work. Now EPA says it will release a new version of the watershed assessment later this year and reconvene the same scientists to give it another look. The agency will also open another public comment period.

"After EPA's draft Bristol Bay Assessment was released in May 2012, we received over 230,000 public comments and conducted a rigorous external peer review," the agency said in a statement. "EPA is using the comments and suggestions from the public and the 12 peer reviewers to revise the assessment. EPA's primary objective is to make sure the agency is using the best available science. EPA intends to finalize the assessment in 2013 after carefully considering the scientific peer review and public comment."

Opponents of the watershed assessment, including Pebble mine executives and many congressional Republicans, have been pressuring EPA to slow the pace of its review. They worry that it may lead to an unprecedented pre-emptive veto of key Clean Water Act permits. The issue has been gaining prominence on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) threatened to subpoena EPA for documents and testimony on its plans.

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.

MSHA announces Spring Thaw Training Dates
MSHA is helping to coordinate "Spring Thaw" training workshops for members of the metal and nonmetal mining industry. These workshops will assist miners and mine operators in identifying hazards encountered when restarting mining operations that may have been closed during winter months. In addition, the workshops will focus on hazard assessments and safe work procedures regarding mobile equipment, safe maintenance and workplace examinations and other related topics. The workshops also will spotlight safety hazards specific to regions of the country. The workshops are free of charge and do not require advance registration.

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