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Noranda Alumina receives MSHA warning

Keywords: Tags  Noranda Alumina LLC, U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, safety violations, PPOV

NEW YORK — Noranda Alumina LLC has received a notice from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regarding potential safety violations at its Gramercy facility in St. James County, La.

The Franklin, Tenn.-based company was one of four operations nationwide to receive letters putting them on notice about a pattern of potential violations, MSHA said, noting that the letters came as a result of more stringent safety screening criteria adopted in 2010.

The new criteria better identify operations that fail to meet safety standards and adequately train their work force, MSHA said in a statement.

"The revised potential pattern of violations program, along with other enforcement actions, such as impact inspections, is making mines safer," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

A spokesman for parent company Noranda Aluminum Holding Corp. told AMM the letters may be more based on companies’ compliance history than on current conditions.

"This determination does not necessarily represent current conditions or reflect improvements made over the past 12 months," a Noranda spokesman said in an e-mail.

Noranda has instituted a safety training program during the last 12 months, AMM understands. The company must respond to the letter by Dec. 28.

Other facilities that received notices included Ten-Mile Coal Co. Inc.’s No. 4 mine in Harrison County, W.Va.; Pike Floyd Mining Inc.’s No. 3 mine in Pike County, Ky.; and Argus Energy WV LLC’s Deep Mine No. 8 in Wayne County, W.Va., MSHA said.

In addition, two nonproducing operations have received warning letters that they will be subject to review once they return to active status. Fourteen other operations are also under consideration for potential patterns of violation, MSHA said, noting that it is currently verifying injury information self-reported by the operators for accuracy.

The MSHA did not respond to calls for comment.

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