he members and staff of the Industrial Minerals Association - North America (IMA-NA) represent a wide range of knowledge and ability, and the organization engages in a variety of issues for the betterment of the industry. The following is a partial list of our recent accomplishments.
IMA-NA lobbyists played a key role on Capitol Hill during the 110th and 111th Congresses, opposing the Supplemental Mine Improvement and Emergency Response (S-MINER) Act and the Robert C. Byrd Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010 because of their failure to meet the needs of the industrial minerals industry. With regard to the former, IMA-NA succeeded in having the vote in the House so close that the Senate never took up the companion bill, as it was guaranteed either to be defeated there or vetoed by the President. With regard to the latter, in response to industry opposition, the House Committee on Education and Labor dropped all but underground coal and so-called "gassy” underground nonmetal mines from coverage under the bill. While partially successful, IMA-NA lobbyists continued to oppose the bill because of the adverse effect it would have on our Soda Ash Section, not to mention the bad precedent passage of the bill would establish. The bill finally was defeated on the House floor during the "lame duck” session of Congress and a companion Senate bill never made its way out of committee to the Senate floor.
IMA-NA lobbyists worked extensively during the 110th and 111th Congresses on minimizing the impact of climate change legislation on industrial minerals. IMA-NA proactively sought a specific exemption for the process emissions of its soda ash and lime producers and secured that exemption in the House-passed legislation. IMA-NA fought for broader exemptions in both the House and Senate that generally would have benefited all industrial minerals producers.
IMA-NA lobbyists became involved at the outset of legislative efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. The issue is of significant importance to IMA-NA’s Bentonite/Barite Section and Industrial Sand Section, which provide minerals utilized in hydraulic fracturing fluids. IMA-NA established an early proactive dialogue with sponsors of legislation.
Despite the priority attached by committee chairmen/sponsors to passage of Clean Water Act reform legislation, IMA-NA lobbyists helped successfully block efforts to remove the word "navigable” from the statutory definitions that establish the framework of the Act.
IMA-NA lobbyists successfully prevented the Senate from considering House-passed Mining Law reform legislation in the 110th Congress and continued that success through the 111th Congress with neither chamber passing a Mining Law reform bill. IMA-NA met with numerous Congressional offices to stress the importance of allowing the continued location of such industrial minerals as bentonite and calcium carbonate. Similar meetings were held with key staffers at the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to gain their support for continued location.
Throughout 110th and 111th Congresses IMA-NA lobbyists played a key role in addressing "Ban Asbestos in America” legislation that potentially could inappropriately affect some industrial minerals through definitional ambiguities. IMA-NA helped secure passage of a satisfactory bill with unanimous support in the Senate. It also successfully resisted companion legislation in the House that would have adversely, and unjustifiably, affected some industrial minerals.
IMA-NA provided regular input to Congressional authorizing, appropriations and budget committees regarding the federal budget and its impact on the industrial minerals industry. IMA-NA lobbyists helped secure legislative support in both the House and the Senate for a supplemental appropriation to fund the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the U.S. Department of Labor (Office of the Solicitor) to address the backlog of thousands of contested mine safety and health citations. The course pursued will reduce the case backlog over a span of several years by providing additional dispute resolution resources without jeopardizing the due process rights of litigants.
IMA-NA lobbyists proactively engaged members of Congress on initiatives to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act.
IMA-NA lobbyists continued to oppose legislation to eliminate the Minerals Depletion Allowance.
IMA-NA submitted several sets of comments on regulatory issues involving climate change to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including comments on the advance notice of proposed rulemaking for EPA’s endangerment finding, EPA’s endangerment finding, the greenhouse gas reporting rule and the tailoring rule. These comments provided a foundation for some IMA-NA members to form the Coalition for Responsible Regulation (CRR), which subsequently filed legal challenges to several of these EPA regulatory initiatives. IMA-NA is a member of CRR.
IMA-NA submitted comments to EPA on the court-mandated revisions to New Source Performance Standards Subparts OOO and UUU, addressing respectively nonmetallic mineral processing and calciners and dryers. The data IMA-NA staff helped marshal permitted EPA to justify provisions included in the final rules.
IMA-NA staff met with EPA officials regarding legislative efforts to regulate hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. The issue is of significant importance to IMA-NA’s Bentonite/Barite Section and Industrial Sand Section, which provide minerals utilized in hydraulic fracturing fluids. IMA-NA is an active stakeholder in EPA’s new study of the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.
IMA-NA submitted comments to EPA on Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund) financial responsibility and has opposed attempts to impose additional requirements on potentially affected industrial minerals.
IMA-NA submitted comments to EPA on what role EPA should play in promoting "sustainable products.”
IMA-NA has proactively engaged EPA on the IRIS risk assessment guidelines for inorganic arsenic.
IMA-NA continues to play an active role on advocacy relative to regulation of course particulate matter by EPA.
IMA-NA advocates the sanctity of previously issued 404 permits and opposes their unilateral revocation.
IMA-NA submitted comments on quartz and cristobalite to Health Canada and Environment Canada in response to the Industry Challenge initiative of its Chemicals Management Plan, Canada’s equivalent of the European Union’s REACH legislation. At issue is whether quartz and cristobalite should be regarded as environmental carcinogens under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act. Several meetings have been held with Health Canada, Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa and further engagement is anticipated when a draft screening level risk assessment is released for public comment.
After filing substantive comments on the proposal, IMA-NA successfully challenged in appellate court the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) final rule on asbestos exposure limits. Differences of interpretation between MSHA, industry and organized labor were successfully resolved through settlement discussions. A settlement was reached, technical amendments to the final rule were issued and the litigation was dismissed.
IMA-NA submitted comments to MSHA on its advance notice of proposed rulemaking on use of or impairment from alcohol and other drugs on mine property. In light of opposition received on its draft, MSHA subsequently abandoned the proposal.
IMA-NA submitted comments to MSHA on its advance notice of proposed rulemaking on metal and nonmetal dams. The comments have served as a template for consensus comments by the nonmetallic minerals industry.
IMA-NA submitted comments to MSHA on their Technical Support Incident Reduction Program and requested that the agency model the program on OSHA’s initiative.
On multiple occasions, IMA-NA submitted comments to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on its "Asbestos Roadmap,” which after four iterations likely will be issued as a Current Intelligence Bulletin. IMA-NA also testified before a special committee of the National Academy of Sciences on perceived deficiencies in the draft document.
IMA-NA submitted comments to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on provisions to implement the Globally Harmonized System of hazard communication in its Hazard Communication Standard, challenging the agency’s past reliance on independent organizations, such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
IMA-NA submitted comments to OSHA on its advance notice of proposed rulemaking on combustible dust.
IMA-NA submitted comments to the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission on its proposed procedural rule on simplified proceedings.
IMA-NA provided comments to the National Academy of Sciences ad hoc Committee on Critical Mineral Impacts on the U.S. Economy regarding the importance of maintaining a national capacity to assess critical mineral resources both within and outside the U.S.
IMA-NA submitted comments to the White House Office of Ethics relative to lobbying reform.
IMA-NA represented member interests on occupational health issues before non-regulatory bodies. It represented the Talc/Wollastonite Section during a scientific review of the potential carcinogenicity of talc by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It also represented the Industrial Sand Section on the same issue before the same body.
IMA-NA similarly represented the Talc/Wollastonite Section on proposed revision of occupational exposure guidelines for talc and wollastonite by the ACGIH.
IMA-NA represented the Bentonite/Barite Section before the United States Pharmacopeia, helping develop a document that was used by USP to modify the moisture content specification for bentonite in the most recent Food Chemical Codex. IMA-NA similarly represented the Calcium Carbonate Section before the USP on specifications for heavy metal content.
IMA-NA conducted a genotoxicity study on talc with the University of Vermont. IMA-NA also represented the Industrial Sand Section in a silicosis mortality study with the University of Vermont, as well as in a study at the University of Northern Iowa on the impact on foundry sands by high temperatures.
IMA-NA engaged the office of the U.S. Trade Representative on the use of Chinese glass in reconstruction of the World Trade Center. The engagement dovetailed with similar efforts by the United Steelworkers Union. The engagement was received positively by both entities.
MSHA and IMA-NA continue to work through their Alliance to improve miner safety and health through cooperative efforts in education and training, technical assistance, mining industry outreach and communications. The Alliance has developed safety and health education and training programs tailored to industrial minerals operations, best practices, and exemplary applied engineering controls. Awards are presented each year to IMA-NA member companies with outstanding safety records.
Most injuries in the mining industry are ergonomically related and account for 85% of all injuries reported to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. IMA-NA has teamed up with the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) and created an Ergonomics Task Force to address this issue. The mission of the Ergonomics Task Force is to provide information leading to the reduction of musculoskeletal injury and illness rates within the industrial minerals industry.
The IMA-NA Dust Control Task Force is comprised of industry and government representatives (NIOSH and MSHA). Their current objective is to develop a document entitled "Dust Control Handbook for Industrial Minerals Mining and Processing.” This handbook will focus on the current technology/best practices relating to: the fundamentals of dust control; wet spray systems; drilling and blasting, crushing, screening and milling; conveying and transport; bagging; bulk loading; controls for secondary sources; operator booths, control rooms and enclosed cabs; and haul roads, stockpiles and open area.
IMA-NA is reaching out to universities in North America with mining programs and is extending IMA-NA membership to selected academics as a way building mutually beneficial relationships with academic institutions.
The average miner is older than 50 years of age. This fact is leading to a shortage of labor and professional employees and causing safety and health concerns. IMA-NA has formed a task force to implement solutions to this looming crisis. Focus areas include legislative efforts to increase funding to mining schools; efforts to attract young people to the profession; and initiatives to improve the image and highlight the value of mining careers.
IMA-NA staff continues to represent the Industrial Sand Section (National Industrial Sand Association) and the Diatomite Section (International Diatomite Producers Association) on the American Chemistry Council’s Crystalline Silica Panel.
IMA-NA obtained funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to assist member companies with reclamation efforts that go beyond compliance. Through the FWS’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, which provides financial and technical assistance to private landowners to improve wildlife habitat, IMA-NA is working with member companies to meet the requirements for this funding opportunity. One current project involves restoration of short-grass prairie on reclaimed mine lands and another project involves restoration of trout-stream habitat.
IMA-NA has created a Sustainable Development (SD) Toolbox that helps enable companies to implement an SD program. The SD Showcase provides examples of outstanding SD initiatives undertaken by IMA-NA member companies. IMA-NA has shared its program with other organizations interested in developing an SD program for their segments of the mining industry.
IMA-NA has responded to the challenge to help reduce intensity of greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade. IMA-NA’s soda ash and borate member companies have set a goal to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from fuel combustion per ton of product by 4.2% between 2000 and 2012. The voluntary initiative is part of the Department of Energy’s Climate Vision program.
IMA-NA worked with the Glass Packaging Institute collecting data on greenhouse gas emissions that were used for life-cycle analysis for the glass industry.
Meetings and Publications
Each year IMA-NA conducts the Industrial Minerals Technology Workshop, at which participants have the opportunity to learn about the latest innovations and best practices in operations, engineering, management, safety, health, environment, and sustainable development issues within the industrial minerals industry. The Workshop consists of mini-workshops and rapid-fire presentations designed to educate in a friendly and participative environment.
IMA-NA instituted a series of Webinars as an educational tool for members. IMA-NA is using these Webinars to apprise members of the latest information on safety, health and environmental issues. The Webinars help bring value to all of IMA-NA’s membership, not only because of the substantive content presented, but also because many of the presenters are IMA-NA Associate Members and the Webinars help strengthen professional bonds between the Associate and Producer Members. Webinars provide a non-dues revenue source for IMA-NA.
IMA-NA also holds process equipment maintenance and optimization seminars. These seminars bring together industrial minerals operations and engineering personnel for hands-on training and discussion on such subjects as dry screening, bag houses, mobile equipment maintenance and magnetic separation. Equipment manufacturer members of IMA-NA host the production members. Additional seminars on different topics are held on an annual basis.
IMA-NA hosts two business meetings annually, a Spring Meeting held in Washington, DC, and the Annual Meeting typically held at a resort location. It is at these meetings that the membership assembles to conduct its business, vertically through the mineral sections and horizontally through the standing committees. Members are kept apprised of current issues through presentations at General Assembly sessions. At the 2010 Spring Meeting, members visited more than 80 Congressional offices in one afternoon to lobby against unwarranted mine safety and health legislation. At the same meeting, IMA-NA held its first-ever stakeholder meeting with senior MSHA officials, reinforcing IMA-NA’s support for improved mine safety and health. The 2010 Annual Meeting in Park City, UT, set record attendance and participation at an IMA-NA meeting.
IMA-NA publishes at least once each month an informative electronic newsletter, @IMA-NA, which keeps the industrial minerals industry informed about important issues and developments. Subscription is free and available to both IMA-NA members and non-members alike.