MISSOULA – Federal mine regulators have proposed over $90,000 in fines against Troy Mine, based on inspections carried out after a mine worker was killed in a cave-in last summer.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration charges that mine managers did not take adequate steps to keep miners safe.
“We view that as completely false,” said Carson Rife, vice president of operations at Revett Minerals, Inc., parent company of the mine. “These fines are related to citations we are already contesting.”
The fines, levied by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, include $38,500 for not keeping workers safe while removing loose rock from the underground mine’s ceiling and $44,600 for not properly supporting the mine’s roof.
The mine was cited for the violations last August, a week after a worker was killed in a cave-in, but the fines were not determined until this month.
Since the fatal accident, MSHA has issued 124 citations at Troy Mine, as well as 24 orders, which are considered more serious than citations.
“Given the seriousness of the situation, those types of assessments are not necessarily unusual,” Rife admitted.
Revett has contested nearly every citation relating to loose rock and roof support. Rife said it could be months before those contested citations are ruled upon.
Meanwhile, MSHA inspectors have issued strong statements regarding what they see as a lack of adequate safety measures at the mine. In their August report, federal inspectors noted that “Bruce Clark, mine manager, and Chuck Heyne, shift supervisor, engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence.”
Rife said his company views many of the complaints as “completely false,” particularly those that specifically name Clark and Heyne, and he said Revett will not pay the fines until the allegations can be reviewed and resolved.
Citations relating to that alleged misconduct included the two fines totaling $83,100.
In addition, MSHA officials have proposed a $10,700 fine for not using proper underground supports. Another $4,000 fine has been issued for improper handling of explosives.
MSHA has proposed another $8,500 in fines for various violations, Revett is contesting $9,000 in fines and has paid nearly $6,000 in fines since the cave-in, according to MSHA records.
Mine regulators have issued another 11 orders and 27 citations after inspections in mid-January and early February, but have not proposed fines for those violations.
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