Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:24PM - 349 Views

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Chad Abshire

Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. — A Pike County, Ky., mine was one of four put on notice by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for violations of health and safety standards.

The Pike Floyd Mining’s No. 3 Mine in Pike County received a letter from MSHA putting it on notice about a potential pattern of violations of mandatory health or safety standards under the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977.

The three others mines that received warning letters were: Ten-Mile Coal Co. Inc.’s No. 4 Mine in Harrison County; Argus Energy WV LLC’s Deep Mine No. 8 in Wayne County; and Noranda Alumina LLC’s Gramercy Facility in St. James County, La.

Two nonproducing mines also received warning letters that they would be subject to PPOV (potential pattens of violations) procedures once they returned 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.

Another 14 other mines are already under PPOV consideration while MSHA verifies injury information self-reported by the operators to ensure accuracy.

MSHA implemented improved screening criteria in 2010 to better identify mines that have been subject to closure orders, including for serious issues such as failing to correct violations cited by MSHA, unwarrantable failures to comply with health or safety standards, failure to provide miners with required training and imminent dangers in the mine.

The criteria better identify mines where these tools have been used but have not been sufficient to improve compliance. The criteria also consider whether a mine has a high number of significant and substantial, or S&S, violations involving elevated negligence as well as a mine’s injury severity rate, targeting operations that have an above-average injury severity measure.

As a result of the first screening under the improved criteria conducted in October 2010, MSHA issued 17 PPOV notices and one postponement letter to Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine. As a result of an October 2011 screening, MSHA issued eight PPOV notices and three postponement letters at mines that were in nonproducing status, inactive or abandoned.

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

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