Rapporteur's Report - Mining Sector - 1. Introduction
Description:Mining provides a large part of the energy and raw materials that feed this Nation's economy. Copper pipe, concrete, and window glass serve as well known examples of the reliance on minerals in modern society. Less appreciated, but as important, are the hundreds of mined commodities that are an integral and necessary part of everyday products, ranging from medicines and computers to carpet and paper. Coal is a major portion of the country's energy mix today, as it will likely continue to be in a future hydrogen-based economy. The domestic mining industry also provides strategic minerals that are important for the Nation's security. The processes to recover these mineral commodities are among the most demanding and complex in an industrial society, and this inherently dangerous industry has historically had the highest risks of fatality and injury. The mining industry has been undergoing some trying and challenging times because of the recent mine disasters in the coal fields. These events have been alarming in light of the strong and encouraging safety record that has characterized mining in the United States for most of the past decade. While mining communities deal with their grief, mine operators, government regulators, and other safety personnel, set about trying to determine why these fatalities occurred. Subsequently, the mining industry is currently experiencing changes in legislation at an unusually rapid pace. The most recent regulatory changes are the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act) and the temporary emergency standard for mine seals. The new mine safety laws call on the nation's mines to adopt certain procedures and safety technologies immediately, or as soon as they become commercially available. Putting all the provisions in place from these new laws is a major undertaking, and will necessitate strong collaborations and partnerships among mine operators, manufacturers, regulatory and research agencies, labor unions, and community groups. It is against this background that Prevention through Design (PtD) components for the Mining Sector are recommended.
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