REPORT: 2015 was safest year ever for US mining industry
The official figures, issued rec...
The US mining industry took a step forward in 2015, recording the fewest fatalities in the history of American mining.
The official figures, issued recently by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), show 28 fatalities for all U.S. mining in 2015. Metal and non-metal mining last year recorded 17 fatalities, while coal mining recorded 11 fatalities – the fewest ever for U.S. coal mines. In 2014, there were 45 mining-related deaths.
“While coal mine closures had some effect on the historic low number of mining deaths, actions by MSHA and the mining industry to improve mine safety have been a major factor,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.
Main credited the agency’s use of strategic enforcement tools, including special impact inspections that quickly address problem mines and the retooled Pattern of Violations procedure that targets mines with chronic violations, along with compliance assistance, training and outreach efforts to the mining industry.
According to National Mining Association (NMA), one such initiative that has been especially successful in driving safety progress is association’s own CORESafety® framework, which aims to eliminate fatalities and reduce injury by 50 percent in five years. CORESafety offers a management system approach to mine safety, offering not a “top-down-one-size-fits-all” model but an adaptable and organic framework for operations of all sizes.
“We’re very gratified by this continued progress because it confirms the result of our commitment to make American mines the world’s safest,” said National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn. “The record confirms the value of our safety initiatives and our on-going determination to return every miner home safely after every shift.”
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is set to deliver six million tonnes of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”