CHARLESTON — A federal chief administrative law judge has approved an agreement between regulators and a South Charleston-based mining company for the latter and its subsidiaries to pay nearly $350,000 to resolve more than 500 citations for mine safety and health violations.
Under their settlement with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, Blackhawk Mining LLC and its subsidiaries are to pay $349,444 to resolve hundreds of safety citations reported at 14 mine sites, including those in Boone, Fayette and Kanawha counties.
Per the agreement, Blackhawk and its subsidiaries will pay 35% less than they would have under the assessments originally proposed by the MSHA, which totaled $537,126.
But the MSHA proposed a significant total penalty reduction approved by Chief Judge Glynn Voisi that Blackhawk welcomed in an emailed statement Monday.
The MSHA often proposes penalty reductions for cited mine operators.
Many citation penalties were slashed to small fractions well under half of the originally proposed amounts.
Blackhawk is “pleased” with the approved settlement, the company said in an email, noting the company had been actively contesting the citations.
The 533 citations reported problems like failure to perform proper safety examinations, mine ventilation failures and unsafe buildup of combustible materials.
The citations issued after what the agency says were routine inspections of mines between August 2021 and March 2022.
“This mutual resolution allows Blackhawk to continue its focus on operating the safest, most productive mines in the region,” the company said.
Voisin, chief administrative law judge of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, ordered Blackhawk and subsidiaries to pay the $349,444 penalty within 30 days.
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission is an independent agency which reviews legal disputes arising under the Mine Act that has governed MSHA activities since 1977.
“The Mine Safety and Health Review Commission’s decision demands that Blackhawk Mining takes responsibility for its failures and reminds other operators that they will not escape the consequences of failing to protect miners as the law requires,” Department of Labor Solicitor Seema Nanda said in a statement.
Blackhawk is controlled by Liechtenstein-based Sev.en AG. Sev.en was among the mine operators most frequently cited for safety violations the MSHA found could have contributed to coronavirus, according to MSHA data uncovered by HD Media requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
Blackhawk employs about 2,000 workers in West Virginia and Kentucky, according to the MSHA.
Mike Tony covers energy and the environment for HD Media. He can be reached at 304-348-1236 or email@example.com. Follow @Mike__Tony on Twitter.
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