Mining & Natural Resources

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US Mine Safety and Health Administration Proposes New Workplace Examination Rule; Requests Information Regarding Exposure of Underground Miners to Diesel Exhaust

On June 8, 2016, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) published the following two documents in the Federal Register, seeking information and comments from industry stakeholders: (1) a proposed rule addressing “Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines (MNM)”; and (2) a Request for Information (RFI) on “Exposure of Underground Miners to Diesel Exhaust.” … Continue Reading

US Mine Safety and Health Administration Holds Stakeholders’ Meeting to Discuss Safety, Compliance, and Next Steps

On May 12, 2016, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) held a stakeholders’ meeting entitled “Improving Compliance: Reemphasizing Rules to Live By and the Exam Rule.”  The meeting discussed the current status of safety and compliance in the mining industry and future plans that MSHA has for outreach and enforcement of safety standards.  Key points … Continue Reading

UK Fracking – Picking Up Energy or Still on Go Slow?

On 11 April 2016, the Environment Agency granted the necessary environmental permits to allow the UK-based company Third Energy UK Limited to carry out hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” as it has become known, for shale gas at the so-called KM8 Well, an existing borehole in North Yorkshire.  Despite opposition, the Environment Agency maintains that the … Continue Reading

Citing Climate Change, US Regulations Expand Protection for the Critical Habitats of ESA-Listed Species

On March 14, 2016, two new federal rules went into effect that could change the way in which the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented throughout the United States. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) finalized these rules to update the regulatory provisions on which the agencies … Continue Reading

Despite Best Efforts, US EPA Faces 2016 Deadline for New Financial Assurance Rules

US EPA has agreed to promulgate financial assurance rules for hard rock mining companies by December 1, 2017.  Specifically, the agencies requirements will apply to facilities which extract or process metals (e.g., copper, gold, iron, lead, magnesium, molybdenum, silver, uranium, and zinc).  The financial assurance requirements will obligate companies performing environmental cleanup to provide a … Continue Reading

US Departments of Justice and Labor To Increase Criminal Prosecutions of Worker Safety Laws

On December 17, 2015, the US Departments of Labor (“DOL”) and Justice (“DOJ”) signed a memorandum of understanding in an effort to more effectively prosecute workplace safety crimes under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSH Act”), the Mine Safety and Health Act (“Mine Act”), and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (“MSPA”).  … Continue Reading

Liquidator Dumps $40 Million Mining Liability on Western Australia Taxpayers

Taxpayers in Western Australia have been left to foot the bill after Jirsch Sutherland, liquidator for the Kimberley Diamond Company Pty Ltd (“KDC”), used a legal loophole to handball expensive mining leases back to the Department of Mines and Petroleum (“DMP”). Care and maintenance costs for KDC’s Ellendale diamond mine amount to $100,000 (AUD) a … Continue Reading

Republicans and Democrats Push for Hardrock Mining Reform in the Wake of Colorado Mine Spill

Congress is moving quickly on multiple fronts in response to the August 2015 spill at the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado.  Republicans in the House held a hearing on a package of mining reform bills proposed by Rep. Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Hardy (R-NV) that would, respectively, promote private sector remediation … Continue Reading

Obama Administration Encourages Private Investment in Natural Resources Mitigation

The Obama administration recently released a presidential memorandum (Memorandum)—a tool the executive branch uses to direct the actions of government officials and federal agencies—designed to encourage private and non-profit sector investment in natural resources restoration and public-private partnerships. The Memorandum aims to instill a policy of first avoiding and then minimizing adverse effects to natural resources. … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Holds that Agencies Are Not Required to Comply With Notice and Comment Requirements When Revising Interpretative Rules

This month, in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, the US Supreme Court overturned the D.C. Circuit’s Paralyzed Veteran doctrine, rejecting nearly 20 years of precedent requiring federal agencies to abide by notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures when they substantially alter an “interpretive” rule. However, the decision also hints that even broader changes may be afoot.  Writing in … Continue Reading

MSHA Launches Aggressive Fatality Prevention Initiative in US Metal /Non-Metal Mines

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is rolling out an aggressive fatality prevention initiative in response to a spike in fatalities at metal and non-metal (MNM) mines over the last sixteen months.  Since October 2013, 37 MNM miners have lost their lives, more than double the number of MNM fatalities in the previous three … Continue Reading

Coal Processor Regulated By US Mine Safety and Health Administration Says Third Circuit

When asked for comment on the recent opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Shamokin Filler Co. v. Fed. Mine Safety and Health Review Comm’n, which held that a coal processor was subject to the jurisdiction of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) instead of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),  Squire Patton … Continue Reading
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