New Mexico Tech Bureau of Mine Safety Presents Awards, Oct. 23, 2007

by Terence Foreback

SOCORRO, N.M., Oct. 23, 2007 -- New Mexico Tech’s Bureau of Mine Safety in conjunction with the New Mexico Mining Association (NMMA) recently celebrated the safety accomplishments of several New Mexico mining operations by presenting them with awards of merit at the NMMA annual convention. The awards were presented by New Mexico State Mine Inspector, Terence Foreback.

Foreback said, “Presenting these awards was particularly gratifying because of the excellent safety record that New Mexico’s miners have registered during 2006 and 2007. We are changing a generation of thinking that said zero accidents at a mining operation was not an obtainable goal, to one that says it is the only acceptable goal.”

Nine mining companies with operations in New Mexico were presented with awards based on their efforts related to maintaining and improving the safety and health of their workforce.

The San Juan Coal Company / BHP-Billiton won the Safety and Health Innovator Award for 2007. This award is given to the operator that has best implemented innovative safety processes. San Juan Coal has implemented underground tracking systems, communications systems, underground shelters and escapeways far exceeding regulatory requirements.

The Lee Ranch Coal Company won Outstanding Safe Operator of the Year award. This operation, with over 250 employees worked over one million man hours and more than a year without a single injury. Other Safe Operator of the Year awards were given to seven other mining companies representing different types of mines (see Table below). The awards’ criteria for evaluation included the safety record of the mine in relation to the number of man hours worked for the period of July 2006 through June of 2007.

Category Company Name Mine Name
Underground Coal San Juan Coal Company San Juan South Mine
Surface Coal Lee Ranch Coal Company Lee Ranch Mine
Underground Metal Molycorp. Inc Questa Mine and Mill
Underground Non-Metal Washington TRU Solutions, LLC Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)
Open Pit Metal/Non-Metal St. Cloud Mining Company St. Cloud Mine
Open Pit Stone Chaves County Road Department Chaves County Portable
Sand & Gravel Bank or Pit St. Cloud Mining Company Lordsburg Mine
Metal/Non-Metal Mills Rio Algom Mining LLC Ambrosia Lake