David G. Zatezalo, former chairman and chief executive officer of Rhino Resources, was nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as assistant secretary of labor for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
The nomination was one of more than three-dozen announced by the administration on Sept. 2.
Zatezalo, member SME, began his mining career in 1974 with Consolidation Coal Company as a UMWA Laborer, became a foreman and subsequently general superintendent for Southern Ohio Coal Company and general manager of AEP’s Windsor Coal Company. He later rose to be vice-president of operations of AEP’s Appalachian Mining Operations. Zatezalo also worked in Australia for Broken Hill Proprietary, Ltd as a general mine manager. Zatezalo is a mining engineering graduate from West Virginia University where he received the 1977 West Virginia University Student Foundation Merit Award. He became a Professional Engineer and received an award for high grade on the mining exam in 1981. He also completed the Masters of Business Administration program at Ohio University in 1994.
While serving as chief executive officer of Rhino Resources, Zatezalo clashed with the agency he has been nominated to lead as the Obama administration’s labor department sought to increase industry-wide enforcement following the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners.
Zatezalo had joined Rhino in March 2007, he also served as president of Hopedale Mining.
The Charleston Gazette reported that in 2010 and 2011, Zatezalo was a top executive with Rhino when the company received a pattern of violations warning letter as well as a pattern of violations letter. The company was cited in a roof collapse that killed one miner and paid $44,500 in fines.
Zatezalo is nominated to fill the position previously held by Joe Main, Obama's pick for the post who had a lengthy resume in mining safety, including overseeing safety programs for the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).
“It is my hope that Mr. Zatezalo will take the tough stance on enforcement that is needed to reign in the rising level of serious injuries and fatalities,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts told the Gazette.
“We look forward to meeting with him and sharing ideas on how to best protect the nation’s miners and reduce the number of fatalities.”