The Obama administration has proposed a fiscal 2015 funding increase for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to $377.2 million, a slight increase from current spending levels of $375.9 million. MSHA is proposing to boost funding for a number of line items, including safety and health for metal and nonmetal operations, plus $600,000 for rulemaking in fiscal 2015. MSHA has several rules under development, including proposals to reduce miner coal dust exposure and prevent accidents from mining machines. The budget also includes $1 million and six full-time workers to implement recommendations stemming from the 2010 Upper Big Branch explosion in West Virginia, among other duties.
“The enforcement strategy in 2015 will be an integrated approach toward the prevention of mining accidents, injuries and occupational illness,” said the DOL. “In 2015 MSHA is proposing appropriations language that would provide the agency with additional flexibility to internally reallocate funding to ensure the enforcement programs have the necessary resources to effectively conduct mandated inspections or investigations.”
The nearly $4 trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 also includes an abandoned mined lands fee as well as a proposed royalty on hardrock mining.
Among the goals outlined in the Department of Interior’s $11.9 billion budget is the Obama Administration’s objective of eliminating wasteful spending and providing “a fair return to taxpayers from mineral development. …This includes charging a royalty on select hardrock minerals—such as silver, gold and copper — and terminating unwarranted payments to coal producing states and tribes that no longer need funds to clean up abandoned coal mines.”
The DOI budget also calls for reforms on mining operations and reducing the environmental impacts of mining. Energy and mineral development on Interior-managed lands and offshore areas generated more than $255 billion of economic activity and supported 1.3 million jobs, according to the department.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Management of Land and Resources calls for a budget of $954.09 million to administer public lands, including exploration and development of minerals on public lands. However, the BLM warned that “program costs are expected to be fully offset by claim maintenance and other fees in 2015.”
The general fund estimates that $24 million will be collected in hardrock mining holding fees this year and also in 2015.