The Mine Safety and Health Administration says 49 mine operators have either taken steps to enter into payment agreements or have satisfied their delinquent debts, resulting in $5.2 million in recovered fines.
In March, David Zatezalo, assistant secretary of labour for mine safety and health, MSHA, announced plans to strengthen the Scofflaw Program, an initiative aimed at collecting unpaid fines from delinquent mine operators. The MSHA then delivered 30-day demand letters to an initial list of delinquent mine operators, providing them with an opportunity to set up a payment plan and clarify the consequence of non-payment.
Zatezalo, says: “A robust Scofflaw Program is critical to protecting the health and safety of our nation’s miners. Failure to pay penalties is unfair to both miners who deserve safe workplaces as well as operators who play by the rules. While 90% of all penalties assessed for health and safety violations are paid in a timely manner, MSHA will continue to use all available enforcement mechanisms to collect unpaid fines.”
MSHA says it will pursue the collection of fines owed through all legal means at its disposal if mine operators fail to show good faith and make penalty payment arrangements.
The administration can pursue a Mine Act 104(b) withdrawal order, which forces mine operators to cease production until fines are resolved. The MSHA has issued 12 of these orders; all but two mines have reopened and resumed operations after making payment arrangements.