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Study Links Mining Economic Growth, Environmental Stewardship


By Mark S. Kuhar

The Wisconsin Mining Association (WMA) released a study done for the organization by international mineral industry consultant Behre Dolbear on how other states have managed to create good mining jobs while honoring their environmental responsibilities.

Testifying at a Wisconsin State Senate Select Committee on Mining hearing, Tim Sullivan, former president and CEO of mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International and chair of WMA, said, “Investors, mining companies, federal, state and local regulators, policy makers and tribal governments across the nation have demonstrated that it is possible to achieve a reasonable and responsible balance that yields good jobs, much-needed tax revenues and welcome profits. Was it always easy? No. Did everyone always get exactly what they wanted? Probably not. Did they sell out their environmental heritage or their take a pass on their regulatory responsibilities? Absolutely not!”

The newly released study identifies five hallmarks of modern mining best-practices in the United States, including:

  • Recognizing that federal, state, tribal and local governments all have a role, and the process works best when the state is the lead and coordinating agency.
  • Regulations work best when they provide clear pathways with precise environmental standards and objectives.
  • Permitting and enforcement procedures work best when they contain reasonable and predictable timelines based on the scope, magnitude and complexity of the project.
  • In best-practice states, the mining industry is engaged with state legislators and regulators to ensure that best management practices, most current technologies and recognized characterizations are incorporated into legislation, regulations and site planning standards.
  • It is important that the process be transparent and actively include all stakeholders early in the process to resolve possible conflicts.

“It is clear,” Sullivan said, “that Wisconsin’s current mining laws do not reflect either the technological advances developed and implemented in the mining industry over the past quarter of a century, or the regulatory advances that now serve as best practices in the United States and elsewhere.”

In his testimony, Sullivan highlighted the economic importance of the state’s mineral deposits, telling legislators, that “today, some of the richest mineral deposits in our country lie buried under Wisconsin and thousands of good jobs are buried there with them.”


Particulate Problem

During the week of Dec. 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent the final particulate matter rule and Cement MACT to the White House for review. EPA is under court-ordered deadlines to have these rules completed in December. While the White House generally takes a month or more to review pending rules, it can expedite the review process.

The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) commented on the proposed PM rule in July, agreeing with the EPA proposal to retain the PM10 standard of 150 ug/m3, but requesting that EPA not reduce the PM2.5 standard. EPA had previously considered dropping the PM10 standard, which would have been devastating for aggregates producers, particularly in the West. The final cement rule is expected to allow producers two additional years to comply with stricter standards.

Now available for purchase through NSSGA’s website is the newly expanded NSSGA Occupational Health and Silica & Dust Control Program CD. NSSGA advocates that members maintain a strong and unwavering commitment to safety and health at the workplace.

Accordingly, NSSGA urges members to establish programs that will develop a knowledgeable workforce capable of recognizing, analyzing and avoiding inherent hazards of the work environment.

NSSGA pledges to work toward the prevention of all occupational injuries and illnesses, and this example of an Occupational Health Program is a valuable, user-friendly tool for safeguarding worker health. This newly expanded offering delivers practical tips for controlling silica and dust. Members receive 50 percent off the price. To place an order, go to www.nssga.org.