Of the nation’s 2100 coal operations, about 400 lie within the existing District 4 boundaries. The agency’s office in Mount Hope has the most staff of all 11 districts nationwide, but also the heaviest workload due to the smallest ratio of managers and supervisors to line staff.
District 4 oversees 27% of all mechanized mining units in the US, versus 14% in the next biggest district. During the 2009 fiscal year, district staff issued 47% more citations than the next most active district with 23,282.
“Although coal production is declining in some districts, the increase in production of southern West Virginia coal, with its high carbon and low sulfur content, appears to be a long-term trend,” MSHA said.
The new office for District 12 will be headquartered in Pineville, West Virginia, and will be staffed with MSHA employees from District 4 and other districts. The agency is seeking to hire a district manager to establish an organizational structure like that of other comparably sized districts.
“Resources must be reallocated to allow MSHA’s coal division to effectively carry out its mission, including new administration initiatives designed to strengthen health and safety protections for the nation’s miners,” assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health Joseph Main said.
“MSHA is committed to implementing management reforms that will increase the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness within a significantly constrained budget framework.”
Start-up costs for District 12 are estimated at $US491,000 and annual rental costs for the office will be about $634,000. MSHA has included the figures in its budget request for the 2012 fiscal year, which is currently being evaluated by the US government.