Provisions to ponder when drafting mining service agreements

By Shannon Bleicher Mining service agreements are a necessary part of any mining project. No matter the stage of a project, service agreements are likely involved. Whether a project is in the early stages of exploration, involved in active development, or well into operations, essential goods and services to support the project are procured through service contracts. Relying on a…

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No time to put your head in the sand –  MSHA and failure-to-abate orders

Lately I’ve been giving some thought to what MSHA considers “enhanced enforcement,” which really refers to enforcement actions that MSHA takes against a mine operator beyond the § 104(a) citations that are the most frequent result of a mine inspection. (We call them “§ 104(a) citations” because the authority for issuing them comes from § 104(a) of the Mine Act.…

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Muddy waters: Who needs a discharge permit under the Clean Water Act?

By Joe C. Matteo and Willa B. Perlmutter Have you ever wondered if polluted water that leaks from a settling pond into groundwater and eventually reaches a river is a “discrete” source of pollution? Or why it matters? You can likely envision a scenario where a mining operation has settling ponds that leak into groundwater before eventually entering a waterway.…

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When life hands you an imminent danger order, pay attention

By Willa B. Perlmutter One of my very favorite clients recently sustained a self-inflicted and completely avoidable (and expensive) wound. Since I can’t go back and prevent it from happening, I hope that maybe I can keep the rest of you from falling into the same trap. Let’s talk about what happened. One morning, I received an email from my…

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The legal right to mine

By Ramona Monroe and Wade Foster At its most basic level, to explore for minerals and develop a mine, a mining company must have three fundamental legal rights: (i) access to minerals (and secure mineral tenure), (ii) access to capital and (iii) governmental and social licenses. A well-trained mineral lawyer or landman who understands the industry is critical at each…

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End of summer to-do list: Pay mining claim maintenance fees

By Eric L. Martin For many Americans, the last half of August brings into intense focus all that the end of summer entails: back to school, Labor Day barbeques, etc. However, to those in the western U.S. mining industry, the last half of August also implicates the critical task of ensuring that unpatented federal mining claims do not become automatically…

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It’s here! It’s finally here! MSHA’s proposed rule on silica exposure

By Willa B. Perlmutter Here’s a fun fact. Going back as early as 1998, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has promised the mining industry it would issue a rule that addresses workplace exposures to respirable crystalline silica at mine sites around the country. (By “rule,” I really mean “regulation.” In other words, a binding requirement issued under…

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Wait…What? A Potentially Dangerous Development in § 105(c) Retaliation Cases 

By Willa B. Perlmutter In my last column, I talked about a coming shift in the analysis the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission will use when it considers retaliation cases brought by the Secretary of Labor or by miners under § 105(c) of the Mine Act.  For those of you that missed that column, here’s the deal: until…

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The more things change, the more they remain the same…maybe

By Willa B. Perlmutter A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference on occupational safety and health law sponsored by the American Bar Association for lawyers from the government, labor and private employers. (Admit it. The idea of hanging out with a bunch of lawyers for five days in a hotel ballroom thrills you, doesn’t it?) The first day…

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