Category: Mining

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MSHA Announces Reinstatement of 2017 Obama-Era Rule on Workforce Examinations

On Monday, September 30, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reinstated an Obama-era rule imposing heightened requirements for health and safety workplace examinations in surface metal and nonmetal mines. The reinstatement represents yet another volley in an already protracted regulatory process spanning two presidential administrations and multiple lawsuits. The 2017 Obama-era rule, marking one … Continue Reading

Rental Rate Increases Go into Effect for State of Alaska Mining Claims, Leasehold Locations, Prospecting Sites, and Mining Leases

New rental rates are now in effect for state mining claims, leasehold locations, prospecting sites, and mining leases in Alaska. The new rental rates became effective on August 30, 2019, and thus are applicable to the rental year that commenced on September 1, 2019. These increases were made by the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources … Continue Reading

National Park Service Regulations Do Not Apply to Inholdings in Alaska

Alaska is different—it has moose hunters on hovercrafts, many large national parks, and certain unique federal laws. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that National Park Service laws and regulations of general applicability do not apply to inholdings within Alaska’s national parks. Sturgeon v. Frost, 587 U.S. ___ (2019). While on a moose … Continue Reading

Sage-Grouse: Short Flight for Pending 10 Million-Acre Withdrawal from General Mining Law?

Secretary of the Interior Zinke has directed that the Bureau of Land Management immediately begin implementing the recommendations in his Sage-Grouse Review Team’s report, which was was released today, concerning the 2015 greater sage-grouse amendments to federal land use management plans. (Prior post on Sage-Grouse Review Team here.) Among other things, such as coordinating federal … Continue Reading

With Mining Law Segregation on 10 Million Acres to Expire in Three Months, Interior Forms Sage-Grouse Review Team

Late Wednesday Secretary of the Interior Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3353 establishing a Sage-Grouse Review Team to review the Obama Administration’s 2015 amendments to federal land use management plans.  To avoid listing the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act, those plan amendments had proposed that over 10 million acres of “sagebrush focal areas” on … Continue Reading

Mining the Deep Seabed for Renewable Energy

On Friday the China Minmetals Corporation signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of polymetallic nodules on the deep seabed of the Pacific Ocean.  The ISA has now executed nearly 30 exploration contracts for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides, and ferromanganese in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans.  These materials are … Continue Reading

Swing and a Foul Ball? Practical Effect of Obama Administration’s Now-Defunct Coal Leasing Moratorium Likely Relatively Small

An executive order, secretarial order, and lawsuit challenging said secretarial order, all in the span of less than 36 hours and all concerning federal coal leasing.  The Trump administration on Wednesday reversed a 2016 Obama administration moratorium on federal coal leasing, and environmental organizations have already filed suit challenging this change of direction.  While the effect on … Continue Reading

Oil Transportation and Suction Dredge Mining Legislative Topics in Washington Too

Following up on last week’s post about Oregon legislative proposals, here are some of the mineral-related bills currently pending in the Washington State Legislature: Oil and Gas SB 5462 and HB 1611 – These two almost identical bills are follow-ups to the Oil Transportation Safety Act that was enacted in Washington two years ago. Among other … Continue Reading

Mineral-Related Bills Pending Before Oregon Legislature

The Oregon Legislature’s 2017 session officially kicked off last week. A variety of mineral-related bills have been introduced.  Here are some of the ones to follow: Mining SB 3 – SB 3 is primarily focused on suction dredge mining.  It would build on the 2013 enactment of a moratorium, currently in effect until 2021, on … Continue Reading

New MSHA Rule on Workplace Safety Examinations for Mines “Trumps” Regulatory Freeze, for Now

On January 23, and for the first time in nearly 40 years, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) issued new rules governing the way in which metal/non-metal mine operators must conduct their regular workplace examinations. A Final Rule on “Examinations of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines” was published in the Federal Register … Continue Reading

EPA Proposes to Require $7+ Billion of Financial Assurances from U.S. Hardrock Mining Industry Under CERCLA Section 108(b)

Last week the EPA officially published its proposal to impose over $7 billion of financial assurance requirements on the owners and operators of currently active or idle hardrock mines and mineral processing facilities. 82 Fed. Reg. 3388 (Jan. 11, 2017).  These proposed requirements are intended to cover estimated response costs, natural resource damages, and health … Continue Reading

Sage Grouse Update: BLM Issues Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Proposed Withdrawal of 10 Million Acres

On the last business day of 2016 the BLM released the DEIS on its proposed 20-year withdrawal of approximately 10 million acres of “sagebrush focal areas” (SFAs) in six western states from mineral location and entry under the General Mining Law.  At the same time, the BLM temporarily “segregated” almost 400,000 more acres in Nevada … Continue Reading

ICYMI: Litigator Willa Perlmutter Establishes Mine Safety Practice at Stoel Rives

Willa Perlmutter Stoel Rives MSHA AttorneyIn case you missed it, Stoel Rives LLP welcomed Willa B. Perlmutter to the firm’s Natural Resources group this past July. Willa is based in our Portland office, but is serving our clients from Alaska to California and all points east—above ground and beneath. She is accustomed to working effectively and efficiently with in-house counsel and … Continue Reading

Why California’s New Groundwater Management Law is a Game Changer for Mine Operators

Ready or not, California’s new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) is here and mine operators should be vigilant in monitoring and actively participating in developments under the law. Previously, the use of groundwater was largely unregulated.  Now local agencies are in the driver’s seat when it comes to addressing a very complex problem: managing groundwater … Continue Reading

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Seeks Input on Mining Regulations – Comments Due 4/29/16

The Alaska DNR is requesting public comments on its mining regulations for establishing and maintaining mining claims – 11 AAC Chapter 86. These regulations (as well as related regulations at 11 AAC 82 and 11 AAC 88) establish or address many of the requirements for locating claims on state lands, performing assessment work, paying rent, filing production … Continue Reading

Financial Assurance Requirements are on the Horizon for Hard Rock Miners

On January 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to finalize the long-awaited “financial assurance” regulations under section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”).  The hard rock mining industry is first in line to be subject to  the … Continue Reading

Utah Congressmen Unveil Landmark Public Land Bill

On January 20, Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz unveiled a “discussion draft” of the Utah Public Lands Initiative Act. The proposed bill undertakes the difficult task of balancing economic development and conservation on public land in the State of Utah. Congressmen Bishop and Chaffetz began working together on the bill in February 2013. Since … Continue Reading

Uranium – A little element with a lot of power

Minerals Make Life – an initiative created by the National Mining Association – has recently developed an infographic summarizing the many benefits of uranium. Uranium is found in many areas of the United States. In fact, uranium is more common than tin, about 40 times more common than silver and 500 times more common than gold. Normally … Continue Reading

Presidential Memo Imparts “Moral Obligation” on Agencies to Mitigate Impacts of Natural Resource Development

On Tuesday, November 3, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum: “Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment” (“Memorandum”).  The Memorandum was sent to the Secretaries of Defense, Interior and Agriculture and the administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and purports to establish … Continue Reading

Mining on 10 Million Acres in Six States Impacted by BLM’s Proposed Withdrawal

On September 24, 2015, the federal Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) published a Notice of Proposed Withdrawal (“BLM notice”), proposing to withdraw from mineral location and entry federal lands identified as “sagebrush focal areas” in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. The BLM notice commences a two-year temporary segregation period, prohibiting location and entry … Continue Reading
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