MSHA Letters Warn Four Mines

The operators of mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Louisiana are now on notice about a potential pattern of violations. The agency also announced the number of operations with chronic violations is falling.

MSHA announced four mining operations have received letters putting them on notice about a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under Section 104(e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977. The four are Ten-Mile Coal Co. Inc.'s No. 4 Mine in Harrison County, W.Va.; Pike Floyd Mining Inc.'s No. 3 Mine in Pike County, Ky.; Argus Energy WV LLC's Deep Mine No. 8 in Wayne County, W.Va.; and Noranda Alumina LLC's Gramercy Facility in St. James County, La. Two non-producing mines also received warning letters saying they will be subject to PPOV procedures once they return to active status: D & C Mining Corp.'s D & C Mining Corp. in Harlan County, Ky., and Hecla Mining Co.'s Lucky Friday Mine in Shoshone County, Idaho.

In addition, 14 other mines are under PPOV consideration.

The PPOV method dates to 2010 as a way for MSHA to focus on mines that have been subject to closure orders, including for issues such as failing to correct violations cited by MSHA, unwarrantable failures to comply with standards, failing to provide required training, and imminent dangers. The initial batch of warnings in October 2010 consisted of 17 PPOV notices and one postponement letter to what was then Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine, followed by eight PPOV notices and three postponement letters at nonproducing, inactive, or abandoned mines a year later.

"The revised potential pattern of violations program, along with other enforcement actions such as impact inspections, is making mines safer," said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The number of chronic violators meeting improved screening criteria has substantially dropped since we began implementing these criteria in 2010."

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