An uphill battle for an underground issue
Springfield Underground President and NSSGA Chairman Louis Griesemer told WY3-News in Springfield, Mo. (http://www.bit.ly/SpringfieldUndergroundKY3), “What we’re concerned about is they’ll pass broader legislation that will impact our industry adversely, where we’re already seeing increases in safety and not being recognized for the good job we’re doing.”
Griesemer says he thinks that the legislation developed after increased violations and several coal mine incidents is too wide in scope. He says the focus should be on coal mines, not on aggregate operations.
“We think it’s not appropriate for our industry because we don’t think we’re the problem,” Griesemer told the news station. “The type of material we’re extracting does not produce explosive gases like methane. The structure of limestone mines is a lot stronger and we’re not as deep as a coal mine.”
Coal mining and aggregate mining are very different, and sometimes the various types of mining aren’t differentiated and a “one-size-fits-all” mentality unintentionally creates unnecessary and unfair burdens on the regulated community. And despite safety improvements in the aggregates mining sector, regulation has continued after mining tragedies regardless of the mining industry sector.
Nine ways underground aggregates facilities differ from underground coal mines
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) has been disseminating this list of “talking points” about how aggregates mining — both surface and underground — is different from coal mines.
1. Extracted product is non-combustible, non-flammable; no flammable gases such as methane are present;
2. MSHA-approved (permissible) equipment is not required in stone facilities such that regular automobiles, trucks, and loaders can be used;
3. Extraction methods create large open spaces for access by large equipment; large openings accommodate emergency equipment used by non-facility emergency services;
4. More stable mineral formations resulting in stable mine roofs; minimized needs for additional roof supports;
5. Emergency escape and access easier because of large spaces in mine;
6. Most are only a few hundred feet deep; horizontal tunnel access permits large mobile equipment to easily enter facility;
7. During emergency, more equipment choices available to operators because reduced hazard permits used of “un-approved” equipment;
8. Minimal need for certified mine rescue teams because local fire departments, or emergency services, are able to respond; and
9. Due to size of large open spaces, and mining methods, mechanical mine ventilation usually not required or is minimal; natural ventilation works well.
Sink or swim
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