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Proposed Information Collection Request Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations; Requirements for the Preparation and Maintenance of Accurate and Up-to-Date Mine Maps (Pertains to Underground and Surface Coal Mines)

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The Department of Labor, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden conducts a preclearance consultation program to provide the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA95) [44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)]. This program helps to ensure that requested data can be provided in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the impact of collection requirements on respondents can be properly assessed.


Submit comments on or before December 30, 2008.


Send comments to Debbie Ferraro, Management Services Division, 1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2171, Arlington, VA 22209-3939. Commenters are encouraged to send their comments on computer disk, or via E-mail to Ferraro.Debbie@DOL.GOV. Ms. Ferraro can be reached at (202) 693-9821 (voice), or (202) 693-9801 (facsimile).

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The employee listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice.

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I. Background

Title 30 CFR 75.1200, 75.1200-1, 75.1201, 75.1202, 75.1202-1, and 75.1203 require underground coal mine operators to have in a fireproof repository in an area on the surface of the mine chosen by the mine operator to minimize the danger of destruction by fire or other hazards, an accurate and up-to-date map of such mine drawn on scale. These standards specify the information which must be shown, the range of acceptable scale, the surveying technique or equivalent accuracy required of the surveying which must be used to prepare the map, that the maps must be certified as accurate by a registered engineer or surveyor, that the maps must be kept continuously up-to-date by temporary notations and must be revised and supplemented to include the temporary notations at intervals not more than 6 months. In addition, the mine operator must provide the MSHA District Manager a copy of the certified mine map annually during the operating life of the mine. These maps are essential to the planning and safe operation of the mine. In addition, these maps provide a graphic presentation of the locations of working sections and the locations of fixed surface and underground mine facilities and equipment, escapeway routes, coal haulage and man and materials haulage entries and other information essential to mine rescue or mine fire fighting activities in the event of mine fire, explosion or inundations of gas or water. The information is essential to the safe operation of adjacent mines and mines approaching the worked out areas of active or abandoned mines. Section 75.372 requires underground mine operators to submit three copies of an up-to-date mine map to the District Manager at intervals not exceeding 12 months.

Title 30 CFR 75.1204 and 75.1204-1 require that whenever an underground coal mine operator permanently closes or abandons a coal mine, or temporarily closes a coal mine for a period of 90 days, the operator shall file with MSHA a copy of the mine map revised and supplemented to the date of closure. Maps are retained in a repository and are made available to mine operators of adjacent properties. The maps are necessary to provide an accurate record of underground areas that have been mined to help prevent active mine operators from mining into abandoned areas that may contain water or harmful gases.

Title 30 CFR 77.1200, 77.1201 and 77.1202 require surface coal mine operators to maintain an accurate and up-to-date map of the mine and specified the information to be shown on the map, the acceptable range of map scales, that the map be certified by a registered engineer or surveyor, and that the map be available for inspection by the Secretary or his authorized representative. These maps are essential for the safe operation of the mine and provide essential information to operators of adjacent surface and underground mine operators. Properly prepared, effectively utilized surface mine maps can prevent outbursts of water impounded in underground mine workings and/or inundations of underground mines by surface impounded water or water and or gases impounded in surface auger mining worked out areas. Start Printed Page 64986

Title 30 CFR 75.373 and 75.1721 require that after a mine is abandoned or declared inactive and before it is reopened, mine operations shall not begin until MSHA has been notified and has completed an inspection. Standard 75.1721 specifies that the notification be in writing and lists specific information, preliminary arrangements and mine plans which must be submitted to the MSHA District Manager.

II. Desired Focus of Comments

Currently, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is soliciting comments concerning the proposed extension of the information collection related to the Record of Mine Closure addressed in 30 CFR 75.1204 and 75.1204-1; the inclusion of standards requiring MSHA notification and inspection prior to mining when opening a new mine or reopening an inactive or abandoned mine addressed in 30 CFR 75.373 and 75.1721; and the inclusion of standards requiring underground and surface mine operators to prepare and maintain accurate and up-to-date mine maps addressed in 30 CFR 75.1200, 75.1200-1, 75.1201, 75.1202, 75.1202-1, 75.1203, 75.372, 77.1200, 77.1201 and 77.1202. MSHA is particularly interested in comments that:

  • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses.

A copy of the proposed information collection request can be obtained by contacting the employee listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice, or viewed on the Internet by accessing the MSHA home page (​) and selecting “Rules and Regs”, and then selecting “Fed Reg Docs.”

III. Current Actions

Mine operators are required to conduct surveying such that mine maps are maintained accurate and up-to-date, the maps must be revised every 6 months and certified accurate by a registered engineer or surveyor and to submit copies of the certified underground maps to MSHA annually and an up-to-date and revised mine closure map whenever an operator permanently closes or abandons a coal mine, or temporarily closes a coal mine for a period of more than 90 days, he or she shall promptly notify the Secretary of such closure.

In addition, mine operators must notify MSHA so that an inspection can be conducted whenever a new mine is opened or a previously abandoned or inactive mine is reopened. The information required to be gathered and recorded on mine maps is essential to the safe operation of the mine and essential to the effectiveness of mandatory inspections and mandated mine plan approval by MSHA. Such information cannot be replaced by any other source and anything less than continuously updated and accurate information would place miners' safety at risk.

The information collected through the submittal of mine closure maps is used by operators of adjacent coal mines when approaching abandoned underground mines. The abandoned mine could be flooded with water or contain explosive amounts of methane or harmful gases. If the operator were to mine into such an area, unaware of the hazards, miners could be killed or seriously injured. In addition, it is in the public interest to maintain permanent records of the locations, extent of workings and potential hazards associated with abandoned mines. The public safety can be adversely affected by future land usage where such hazards are not known or inaccurately assessed. MSHA collects the closure maps and provides those documents to the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation & Enforcement for inclusion in a repository of abandoned mine maps. Therefore, MSHA is continuing the certification and application of 30 CFR 75.1204 to assure the required information remains available for the protection of miners' and public safety. In addition, MSHA has added the burden hours and cost estimates for standards which address the preparation and maintenance of certified mine maps for surface and underground coal mines and the notification of MSHA prior to the opening on new coal mines or the reopening of inactive or abandoned mines.

Type of Review: Extension.

Agency: Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Title: Requirements for the Preparation and Maintenance of Accurate and Up-to-Date Mine Maps (pertains to underground and surface coal mines).

OMB Number: 1219-0073.

Recordkeeping: Annual or on occasion.

Affected Public: Business or other for-profit.

Number of Responses: 737.

Number of Respondents: 1,453.

Total Burden Hours: 14,572.

Total Burden Cost (operating/maintaining): $18,221,257.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval of the information collection request; they will also become a matter of public record.

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Dated at Arlington, Virginia, this 28th day of October 2008.

David L. Meyer,

Director of Administration and Management.

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[FR Doc. E8-25981 Filed 10-30-08; 8:45 am]