A Publication Dedicated To Coal People

                          September  2007  Issue 


Women's Mining Coalition

By James Stevens

In an industry almost exclusively male, a small group of women have quietly been making a difference in getting legislative focus on mining issues.

It began in 1993 when a determined group of concerned women working primarily in the metal mining sector journeyed to Washington, D.C., to address legislators about changes to the  Mining Law of 1872.

The Women’s Mining Coalition supports reform to the Mining Law of 1872 which provides a fair return to the public in the form of a net income production payment to the government from minerals produced from new mining claims on public lands; ensures security of title and tenure from location of claims through production; recognizes existing federal and state environmental laws; and establishes an abandoned mines clean-up fund financed with revenue from the net income payments.

The WMC believes the United States has an abundance of mineral resources which are the foundation of a modern economy, and should be developing its own mineral resources to lower, or eliminate dependence upon foreign imports, while setting the standards for environmentally responsible mining. . 

Since those early days, the WMC has expanded to more than 1,000 members, both men and women, and includes participants from many sectors of the mining industry, including coal, steel, construction materials, the energy sector, manufacturers and trade associations. In addition to the focus on changing the Mining Law of 1872, the WMC also addresses the issues of mountaintop mining and valley fill in the coal mining industry.

Anne Wagner, PhD, Manager, Environmental and Public Policy, at Molycorp, La Questa, New Mexico, and the current President of the Women’s Mining Coalition, said, “We have a mission to educate the public and the lawmakers with facts about the modern mining industry, and the importance of the mining industry to the economy, and even our daily lives. WMC members document the industry’s commitment to resource stewardship and environmentally responsible mining.”

Wagner came to the mining industry as a consultant on reclamation issues. “I was hired by Molycorp to oversee reclamation and environmental compliance issues. I am now the Manager, Environmental and Public Policy, for the Molycorp Questa Mine in New Mexico,” said Wagner.

“I got involved with the WMC for a couple of reasons,” Wagner said. “It seemed like a good opportunity for making a difference and in advocating the importance of responsible mining. It also was an opportunity to network in the industry, particularly with women working in all aspects of the industry.”

Wagner is assisted in her efforts by a diverse executive committee consisting of Vice President Jacqueline Cahoon, mine engineer at Consol Energy, Inc.’s Robinson Run Mine in Harrison County, West Virginia; Treasurer Cami Prenn, principal in Mine Development Associates, Reno, Nevada; and Secretary Kimberly Wolf, senior environmental engineer with Barrick Goldstrick, Elko, Nevada.

“The organization offers women in mining, whether it is hard rock or coal, the opportunity to meet other concerned women in the mining industry as we get out the word about our initiatives,” said Wagner.” It provides an avenue for expressing the importance of mining to themselves, their families and their communities. 

Each Spring some 50 plus members of the Women’s Mining Coalition take part in a trip to Washington to spread positive information about the modern mining industry to members of Congress and their staffs. They converse, educate and present factual information on current issues facing both the coal and minerals mining industries. Participants meet with both Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

The Women’s Mining Coalition delivers the message that a strong mining industry is vitally important to the United States and that jobs across the country depend on mining. They also ensure that elected representatives are aware that current regulations and modern technology ensure state-of-the-art environmental and safety protection at U.S. mines, throughout the various industry sectors and within manufacturing facilities. Policy makers receive first-hand information about the technological advancements and environmental stewardship of today’s mining industry, as well as the importance of industry jobs to local communities and to the nation as a whole.

The WMC, while in Washington, also hosts an annual luncheon with the National Mining Association for congressional members and their staffs from a variety of women’s, mining, rural and western caucuses. In the past, WMC members have given testimony at congressional hearings regarding critical workforce issues, sustainable development, reclamation, NEPA reform, the Endangered Species Act, mining law reform and other energy related issues.

The major goals and objectives of the Women’s Mining Coalition are listed as:

• Diversifying and expanding the membership and participation base.

• Encouraging broader representation within the mining industry-coal, metals, industrial minerals, construction materials, manufacturing, suppliers, energy generation, transmission, transportation, etc.

• Expanding partnerships within various sectors of the industry.

• Continuing outreach efforts with members of Congress and their staffs by supplying them with information and examples of the modern mining industry, providing them with an opportunity to meet women who work in the industry, and illustrating the industry’s role in helping to build a strong and secure United States of America.

Since 1993 Accomplishments include:

•  Organizing and coordinating trips to Washington, DC. - numerous trips since 1993- for mining industry advocates to meet with members of Congress on mining issues.

•  Working collaboratively with national, regional and state mining associations and industry leaders on message points for mining issues.

•  Providing information on mining to members of Congress and the Administration in support of reasonable legislation and regulations.

•  Organizing letter-writing campaigns at industry conventions.

•  Submitting comments to federal agencies on various mining issues.

•  Participating in industry-sponsored events on Capitol Hill.

•  Testifying at Congressional Hearings.

•  Participating in state mining-related issues and hearings.

•  Recognition-Honoring women in the mining industry, 1993 Elko Minexpo.

•  Initiation of Adopt-a-Legislator (AaL) Project, with constituents from the mining industry and manufacturers contacting legislators on issues to mining.

•  Co-sponsoring the Constituent Outreach Recruitment Program – evolved from AaL.

Regarding the reforming of the Mining Law of 1872, the WMC is encouraged. “Our legislators recognize the importance of a domestic mining industry and will want to continue to produce minerals in the USA,” said Wagner. “People who want to help can do so by writing to their members of Congress supporting our message. More information can be found at the National Mining Associations website, www.nma.org, and through the National Mining Association ACT Online

Senator Harry Reid, Nevada, is a strong supporter of the WMC.

“Since its inception,” Reid said, “the Women’s Mining Coalition has been a leading voice for the important role that mining plays in the economy of Nevada and our nation. The Coalition has tirelessly promoted the role that women now play in all aspects of mining, and has sought to educate young students about the wide array of jobs available to women in today’s mining industry. But, its most important contribution may be the way that the members of the Women’s Mining Coalition help to put a very human face on those behind mineral production in America.”

To become a member of the Women’s Mining Coalition, and participate in the legislative process on behalf of yourself, your family, community and industry, call 775 829-2121, extension 16. Be advised that messages may not be checked daily by the WMC.