LANSING, Mich. — Legislation recently introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives would update the requirements for individuals to serve as mining inspectors in the state, said sponsors Sen. Ed McBroom and Rep. Greg Markkanen.
Senate Bill 1121 and House Bill 6240 would remove a requirement currently in state law that requires mining inspectors have at least 10 years’ experience in the profession in order to be elected in counties that currently have only abandoned or idled metallic mineral mines. The bills would also permit counties to form agreements to share mining inspectors.
“With more than 800 abandoned mine sites in the U.P., it is an important safety issue for our local units to be aware of and be able to timely inspect these areas,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “When the Western U.P. counties shared that they were having difficulty finding eligible individuals to serve because of restrictions in the state law, it seemed appropriate to look at making necessary and reasonable updates.”
Gogebic County Administrator Juliane Giackino agreed with the need for the change.
“This legislation would definitely help the western counties,” said Giackino. “The current law has made it difficult to find qualified individuals that meet the eligibility requirements to serve as our county mining inspector. Also, being able to share inspectors should also assist the counties. We need to keep people safe.”
County mining inspectors serve an important role of regularly inspecting abandoned, closed or idled mines. Among other responsibilities, they check for appropriate fencing needs and monitor for caving ground.
“The U.P. has a long and storied mining tradition that is experiencing a rebirth after years of decline,” said Markkanen, R-Hancock. “While this is great news for our people and the economy, we must be mindful of ensuring that past mining areas remain known and safe for the public who may encounter them.”
SB 1121 was referred to the Senate Natural Resources Committee for consideration, while HB 6240 was referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.