Coeur Alaska, WEST 2015-364-M, et al. (September 20, 2016) (ALJ Simonton)
Coeur Alaska was issued ten enforcement actions between July 17, 2014, and December 5, 2014 with a total assessed penalty of $199,047. A hearing was held on these ten enforcement actions, six of which were specially assessed because they were violations of a Rule to Live By. The ALJ upheld the special assessments on four of the violations finding that the penalty would not interfere with Coeur’s ability to continue operations. The ALJ vacated the special assessment on two of the violations.
For one of these two enforcement actions, the Secretary had proposed a special assessment of $3,000. The violation was issued for damaged and stressed wire mesh in the travelway of the underground gold mine. It was designated as non-S&S, unlikely to result in lost workdays or restricted duty, and high negligence. The ALJ found that because the enforcement action was non-S&S, and unlikely to cause serious injury, the special assessment was excessive and it was vacated.
The other enforcement action was also for a violation of a Rule to Live By and was issued for Coeur’s failure to maintain wire mesh at an intersection and upramp. It was issued as S&S with a reasonable likelihood of fatal injury, high negligence, and specially assessed at $60,000. The ALJ found that because the hazard was obscured from view and the miners in the area were protected by truck cabs it was reduced to moderate negligence. The ALJ vacated the special assessment after finding the penalty was excessive for a violation of moderate negligence.