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US mining company facing $350,000 in penalties to resolve more than 530 violations

13 March 2023

A federal administrative law judge has ordered the operator of mining complexes in south west Virginia and eastern Kentucky to pay civil penalties totalling $349,444 (£287k) to resolve 533 citations for mine safety and health violations that US Department of Labor inspectors identified at 14 mines.

Chief Administrative Law Judge Glynn F. Voisin with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission issued an order on January 25, 2023, approving a settlement agreement and ordered Blackhawk Mining LLC and its subsidiaries to pay the penalties within 30 days. The independent agency hears and settles disputes mine operators file to challenge MSHA citations and penalties.

MSHA issued the citations after routine inspections of the mines between August 2021 and March 2022. The inspections identified issues such as roof control concerns, unsafe accumulations of combustible materials, failures to maintain proper mine ventilation, equipment maintenance issues and failures to conduct proper safety examinations.

“Mine operators bear the responsibility for the safety and health of the miners they employ, and when operators choose to ignore their legal obligations, the U.S. Department of Labor will use its enforcement powers to hold them accountable,” explained Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “The Mine Safety and Health Review Commission’s decision demands that Blackhawk Mining takes responsibility for its failures and reminds other operators that they will not escape the consequences of failing to protect miners as the law requires.”

Controlled by Sev.en Energy, a European energy conglomerate, Blackhawk Mining is based in South Charleston, West Virginia. The company employs about 2,000 workers in West Virginia and Kentucky.

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