August 18, 2022 

Ideal Time for Facts


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 By Michael Miller

03/30/2016  3:05AM

Our miners know that underground mining is a dangerous occupation. Our legislative direction (the mine act of 1977) towards safety is the responsibility of operators and miners. It rules every moment of our work... underground and on the surface.

Hazards lurk everywhere. This is a universal truth in most occupations. For us the first step in safety is recognizing hazards. The next step is to evaluate the hazard. The third step is to eliminate or mitigate the danger. The hazard still exists, yet it poses no danger to the miners.

MSHA is our legislated safety agency. It plays an important role for miners and our country. The best way for MSHA to assist an operator/miners with safety is for both sides to act responsibly.

MSHA recently began helping our industry with email alerts. One arrived today and follows:

Dear Metal and Nonmetal Mine Operators,

April is the second deadliest month in the Metal and Non-Metal mining industry. Only October has recorded more mining deaths than April, and not by many. Since 2000, a total of 50 metal and nonmetal miners have lost their lives in April, and many more have suffered serious and disabling injuries.

As warmer weather returns, so do many of the metal and nonmetal mines that were idled during the winter months. Equipment and plants that have not run for several months are pulled out of storage and set up again, ready to get back to work.

This time also sees an increase in new miners, but they are not the only ones at risk. Even experienced men and women need retraining. Mine management and miners alike must recognize the hazards and commit to a vigilant and safe mine health and safety program. Training new employees and refreshing experienced personnel, examining workplaces and correcting safety defects, analyzing tasks and planning jobs before beginning work, and being your brother’s or sister’s keeper are the hallmarks of a safe and successful operation.

In mining and milling, there is no room for warming or ramping up on safety or easing into risk control the first few days or weeks. Safety must be full-on and in the forefront of everyone’s mind from day one. END

The mining industry is shrinking in California and America. It receives bad press and little good press. All of us benefit from well run mining operations. With the closing of the underground gold mine just west of Redding, the Sixteen to One is the last commercial underground operation in California. This is sad.

01/21/2016  3:51PM

Eight silver producing companies listed on New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ reported combined silver production for 2015. The total silver production is 85.5 million ounces.
 By Michael Miller

12/22/2015  1:52PM

Ah, voices from the past. How refreshing!!

Public Paw 91-173 called “FEDERAL MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT OF 1977”. Most historic publications call it “An Act”. It should come up on any search. Before MSHA came into existence, a different agency handled regulation. Congress’ intent is clear in An Act. It is also clear that the intent of An Act today does not follow its original and amended purposes.

So no one miss characterizes my position, I want regulations. They are needed; however this is not what is coming to Alleghany. I speak with people in the mining industry often and throughout the country. Poor regulation is a national epidemic and it hurts every person in the United States. I know this to be true from North Carolina to Idaho to Arizona and of course in California.

“Truth, like gold, lies at the bottom.”
 By Rick

12/19/2015  11:08AM

Wow, has it been that long ???? I originally started the topic when we were neck deep fighting the falsehoods and propaganda spewing from the illegal behavior of the CDAA. It is epic that this mining operation survived, and is on the brink of proving once again that the truth works every time its tried...eventually. Keep it up Mike!
 By Big Al

12/11/2015  10:40PM

Hi Mike, I have looked for the ACT you mentioned, there are several in 1977, is it the mine saftey act? or one of the others?

I am in the Summary Judgement phase of Gene's and my suit. For the value we could use your help if you can, for instance, how much 2300 feet of drift is worth. Thanks, Big Al
 By Michael Miller

12/09/2015  2:25PM

This topic began ten years ago. I have enjoyed writing on the Sixteen to One web site as much as I have enjoyed reading what you write. Neither of us have been doing much writing lately. As the 2015 year closes down and 2016 looms ahead, the Ideal Time for Facts should be a fun and informative hobby. Check it out. Comments started in September 2005.

Gold mining and even our nation’s unquestionable need for coal and other non-precious minerals are under attack from the public, the media and even some Federal and State agencies. A counter attack is vital to secure social and economic freedoms that you and I value. I have continued my effort for legal justice under a federal law passed in 1977 called “An Act of 1977”. This lost right is contained in Section 4. It has been emasculated by the people, agency and system created to protect the miners of America.

Most Americans today never think about the value of our domestic mining industries. They only hear about bad stuff, which mostly is an allegation of a toxic harm to the earth or humans. Other topics on this FORUM are also appropriate for specific comments. Let’s give it a try and see where this path leads. Can we affect changes? Does anyone even care?

Other topics on the FORUM are there for education enlightenment of venting. My absence from regularly typing these keys, then pressing “Submit” are actually very positive. I,ve been very busy leading the operations and abnormally frustrated with regulatory nonsense. BUT, our operation in Alleghany has turned around from a decade of sorrow. One can easily call it a decade of under performing. We found some good exploration targets in June and guess what? We are mining some gold. One of these targets is very exciting. It is above the main adit, which is a blessing. Travel time to the working face is doable and utilities and their extension are not problems. The potential for developing a major pocket is real. I say real because of the location, geology and past production nearby and some history that apparently was overlooked by all of us associated with operating the mining program. Remember, in a high-grade gold mine like ours, proven reserves is impossible to determine.

Regulators continue to harass us as well as other mining operations. I know this from personal experiences with the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA0 and the State of California at the Sixteen to One. I also know this rolex replica from my background in mining. Too many people both in the industry and regulating the industry tell me horror stories about the quality of regulators. The issue is not always the individual but the lack of real experiences to judge what they are inspecting. . Many tell me that the root cause lives in Washington DC. Do we have a chance to correct the sorry decline in public services? I think the answer is, “YES”. Is the effort worth the time? It is for me not just because I run a gold mining operation. I live in California, have family, friends and community in California and I am an American.

So, my new year’s resolution is coming ahead of the calendar date. I resolve to work on this problem, share information with you and ask for your efforts as well. Who was it that said, I love it when a plan comes together”?
 By cw3343

08/28/2015  5:12PM

Would I be correct in assuming that a large % of the MSHA employees and/or inspectors have most likely never worked in a mine 1 day of their lives?

They should hire retired miners to perform their inspections and verdicts. My guess is that in reality it is probably academic types that learned their trade from a classroom and books - maybe a field trip to look at an open pit mine from a distance...

They will no doubt stay as long as it takes in order to find a violation, just to make up for the long drive up to the mine from wherever their offices are.

Common sense dictates that mining is inherently dangerous. So is logging - I chased landing under a Skycrane that came in with a new turn every 98-120 seconds. This same chopper later crashed in the bottom of the canyon where we worked! Before I arrived on the job a faller with 25+ years of experience was trapped on a side-hill under a log with a broken pelvis, leg, ankle, and ribs. With a workplace environment like this (or down in the mine), you almost expect something bad to happen. Most likely, you are prepared to handle it, and be ready for it. It is the nature of the work itself – mining, logging, or offshore fishing in Alaska, which creates the dangerous environment. Bad things will still happen despite rigorous safety training, proper equipment, and never-ending work on making the site itself safer. The regulators' approach is akin to me blaming the road (or my car) if I hit a deer and got into a car accident…

How many mine accidents across the country have occurred immediately after a clean or zero citation MSHA inspection? (If such an MSHA inspection exists).
 By Michael Miller

08/25/2015  8:24AM

Answer to WK below: Yes. Two men died from accidents in the mine. Eighty or more years ago a miner fell and died from his injury. On November 6, 2000 a tragic accident took the life of Lead Miner Mark Fussell. Mark ‘s accident resulted from a brain lapse while on the 1700 level. MSHA took extreme measures to concoct a story blaming the Mancha Locomotive he was operating as the root cause. The lead investigator, Steve Cain, fabricated a report and none of the management questioned its authenticity (an easy task to perform). Why did MSHA do this?

During our last inspection the inspector brought up root cause analysis. I spoke up as he drifted off track. Most accidents result from inattention by the miner. Let’s call it a ‘brain fart’. Until our hazardous environment and dangerous work place is properly reviewed during an inspection or accident, the miners’ health and safety will be compromised. MSHA needs to get this right!

A few years ago a young Sixteen to One miner dies from his car accident on Highway 49. It was sad and also tragic. Fault was not his car or another. He just lost his focus, something that happens from time to time.

My greatest concern during last week’s visit from the feds was their safety. I told them so at the outset. Neither was physically prepared to travel in our mine. We continue to be regulated by people without the required background, experience and training.
 By WK

08/25/2015  7:44AM

Would I be correct to speculate that more Sixteen to One miners have died or been injured in their cars than in the mine?
 By Michael Miller

08/24/2015  1:18PM

See entry on 8/18/2015.

Then please use your common sense and imagination to add descriptions for me to present at a conference with federal regulators regarding Sixteen to One mine. Even if you have never been underground go ahead with adjectives and nouns. Use your imagination. Others do. I want your views.

The crew just finished a week long inspection where our normal was seen as creating unsafe work environment (something that regularly happens with MSHA regulators employed to help miners with safety and health. I was handed four citations marked serious and substantial, the worst kind of evaluation. None of the miners could believe the citations represented the Sixteen to One. All these must be vacated.

How to explain to MSHA? What I will send MSHA district office:

"Sixteen to One mine topography is not discrete or separate in its underground surfaces. The mine workings are in a hazardous environment underground and will always be treated as such. All people entering the underground are given instructions about the conditions they will encounter. It is a hazardous and dangerous place, especially for person with infrequent experience.

The hazards include but not limited to: irregularities in shape, size, composition, slipperiness, height, duration of awkwardness, unfamiliarity, low light, headroom, loose rock, ( please add some more things to beware of when underground in a mine). A person may slip, fall, scrape the body, trip, bump one’s head, (please add some more things). This is for real and not a joke."

Thanks. Comment here or to my email
 By David I

08/20/2015  6:47AM

Hello Mike, sorry to here about the poor qualifications of the mine inspectors. you say you have had poor results with contact to your Congressman. The way you can handle this is to write the speaker of the house about your lack of support from your representative. I do it all the time, My representative is a democrat, and he and I do not liike each other very much. So to get around his inconsideration I write the Speaker John Boehner. He will help you.
 By Michael Miller

08/18/2015  4:36PM

Right now our mine has two Authorized Representatives of the US Secretary of Labor (AR) underground. They are commonly called “mine inspectors”. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 was passed by Congress for the benefit of miners as well as to benefit the general welfare of American citizens. Mineral production is not a luxury. It is an essential to our lives.

Section 505, entitled Inspectors, Qualifications; Training says: persons appointed as authorized representatives of the Secretary shall be qualified by practical experience in mining or by experience as a practical mining engineer or by education: Provided, however, That to the maximum extent feasible, no person shall be so selected unless he has the basic qualification of at least five years practical mining experience…

I was disappointed that this would be the first underground mine experience of one AR. I was shocked to be told that this AR has never worked anywhere as a miner or in a mine. She is here to get some training and experience. In the pre-inspection conference I related how costly this has been for us in the past. Time wise the inspections are uncomfortably slow and tedious as the lead AR wants to explain every little crack to the newbie. Well, this was also the experienced first time underground at the Sixteen to One for the lead AR.

I thought we had a meeting of the minds until the lead miner and also miners’ representative assigned to show the ARs the mine called me around noon. He was frustrated because they had only traveled a short distance from the portal and a lot of teaching was taking place between the two ARs.

I got my hat and boots drove to the portal and headed underground, hoping to to advance the situation or find out why they were so slow. What I found was they had traveled no further and were still looking at cracks and ground support. Oh, I forgot, when I left the mine in the morning, I called the MSHA District office in Vacaville to register my complaints about the ongoing use of Sixteen to One as a training ground for inexperienced ARs. This AR has zero experience which is a first!

What can be done about a federal agency breaking the law and passing the expense of lost time on a small operator? This is my question to you. How can this governmental treatment be addressed? The district and field offices know this. It really isn’t their fault nor is it the fault of the ARs. Our industry cannot survive with continual enforcement by an unlawful regulatory agency. Writing my Congressional representatives gets no results.

The Act of 1977 clearly spells Congresses’ intent in Section 103c, which protects small businesses from an “unreasonable burden upon operators and unnecessary duplication of effort in obtaining information”. It is an epidemic! MSHA has killed the small mining operation and who knows but it may be hurting the big multinational operations as well.

This behavior does not benefit our miners or our country. Maybe if others got involved, we can turn this abusive and unlawful behavior around. Parallel with those who grow our food, farmers and ranchers, those who extract the vital minerals we must have to enjoy life, miners are under attack by an overt act of aggression. If you like to eat and like your car, bike computer or clothing, I would like your help. Ideas are good but if others can make more people aware of this lawlessness happening right now at the Sixteen to One, we can stop a growing epidemic.
 By Michael Miller

11/21/2014  11:26AM

With inquires about my post below, a follow up seems prudent.

The formal demands at the highest level of federal policy are out of touch with day to day operations of miners. The inspectors/investigators are encouraged to aggressively pursue hearsay evidence by this recent MSHA directive. Maybe it is required in the coal industry. Coal is vital to all Americans. Growing congestion on US railroads due to crude oil shipments is side-lining coal and worrying power producers nationwide. The fear is a reduction in power generators. I’m not familiar with the coal miners and their working situations. They most likely are not familiar with the underground gold miners, especially those few in California. Even though, my desire is to let them know that others in the mining world are not comfortable with MSHA going after hearsay opinions that will determine the outcome of an investigation.

When MSHA directs its inspectors to go after a particular area in the mining industry, the small operator and miners receive little or no benefit. Our mines do not resemble coal mines, yet the rules MSHA enforces (and how inspectors go about it) are best described as, “one shoe fits all feet).
America must correct this behavior or we will become extinct.
 By Michael Miller

11/20/2014  12:09PM

Six weeks ago MSHA reissued its Procedure Instruction Letter “PIL” regarding inspectors investigating fatal accidents. The policy letter notes two changes. Both create more opportunities for inspectors to gather hearsay or secondary information from persons not at the accident scene. MSHA now encourages inspectors to “aggressively pursue interviews with witnesses (?) not on the mine site at the time of the accident”. This is a requirement placed on inspectors.

While this whole change of enforcement is somewhat troubling, this revision emphasizes the investigator approach family members to specifically seek potential hearsay evidence of “statements the victim gave to family members about safety issues at the workplace”. It also requires the accident team to create a Public Notice to encourage any person to contact MSHA with hearsay information related to the accident. MSHA will also consider this information as privileged, which prevents operators from learning the information until 48 hours before the MSHA hearing. The MSHA review commission now interprets Section 103(a) of the Mine Act of 1977 to require operators to turn over the home addresses and telephone number of miners to MSHA investigators.
 By Michael Miller

09/30/2014  9:14AM

Mining is a global industry. Mankind recognized the value of natural resources from the caveman to the astronaut. Those who fail to recognize this are fools. Ignorance of this necessary industry is the enemy of behavior. Following are some short clips about news you most likely will never hear or read.

Polish miners block Russian coal imports at border

More than 200 Polish miners blocked trains carrying Russian coal at a border passage in northern Poland to protest against the cheaper Russian coal being brought in at a time when local mines are struggling, mining union leaders said recently. Poland, which uses coal to generate about 90 percent of its electricity, produced 76.5 million tons in 2013. It exported 10.6 million tons but at the same time imported 10.8 million, mainly from Russia and the Czech Republic. Comment: USA coal use is the cleanest in the world. Coal industry is under attack in America.

Indonesia probe into deadly Freeport mining accident to take a week

Indonesia's mining ministry expects an investigation into a deadly accident at Freeport-McMoRan Inc.'s copper mine to take a week, and open-pit mining will not resume until its conclusion, a government official said. Freeport recently halted open-pit mining at its Grasberg copper mine, one of the world's biggest, after a truck collision killed four. Comment: The open pit produces around 140,000 tons of copper ore per day and the underground puts out about 80,000 tons. Copper is necessary for communications, a very active pastime today. Few ever think about where or how this vital element appears for our benefit.

Gold price seen near tipping point for mine cuts, closures

The price of gold, down more than a third in three years, is approaching the tipping point where the mining industry would see a spike in the number of producers reducing output or even shutting down operations. Several mines globally have already suspended output in the past 18 months, but not as many as industry watchers expected as producers focused on slashing costs and reworking mine plans to extract more profitable, higher-grade ounces. Comment: I have trouble with this analysis. Gold traders pushed the prices beyond all reason near the $1900/ounce. Gold “analysts” participated in creating a false value, creating semi panic for those without gold, which created an ideal short play. Ignorance cost some nice people to lose value. The spot price quickly dropped. At the $1220/ounce range, spot price remains 50% greater than the 1980’s massacre (high of $800/ounce).

Gold demand outlook promising on lower prices, seasonality

The gold price is expected to languish for the rest of the year and test $1,200. For the year as a whole, the price is expected to average $1,270, which compares with the year-to-date average of $1,289. However, this decline may not benefit Indian consumers, as the rupee is forecast to average 61.4 against the dollar this year. This requires the rupee to average 62.3 over the next quarter. Comment: If you have Indian friends, ask them to explain their culture and the role of gold.
 By Michael Miller

09/02/2014  6:04PM

September 2, 2014
Dear Mr. Rice,

The article you wrote regarding miners/ executives and price issues has merit; it tells one story but not the one I know. I entered the gold mining industry in October 1974, a couple of months before spot price controls were extinguished. I bought a mine in the Alleghany Mining District, the last active gold camp in California’s productive gold belt. I began mining in 1975. I also began a proxy fight to take over the second oldest gold mining company in the United States. Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc. (incorporated 1911 in San Francisco) was second behind another California corporation Homestake Mining. I got enough shareholders to win a director seat in 1977 and enough proxies to vote in a new board in 1983. I became president.

I am a professional miner/executive with forty years of full time experiences in this unusual industry. There are topics that people like me rarely discuss publicly. My primary reasons for not being too concerned about the spot price vary; however what you did not mention is perhaps the most important. Spot prices are not driven by normal supply/demand economic standards. The market is a game played by the powerful. My understanding has resulted in the three really price runs since 1975, a date when the beginning of the modern gold rush began.

The prices were played beyond sustainability. We all knew it. Some took advantage by short selling or selling naked contracts. Some call it forward selling. Others never did this but sold gold when cash was required to operate as the directors saw fit. It will happen again. It always has. So, real miners/executives cannot fret about price swings. Go back and research how many public gold mining companies there were in the 1980’s, 1090’s, 2000 and today. Take a look how few remain over the past thirty or forty years. You may find more food for your thoughts. And for the heck of it, check out how many shares are outstanding.

Miners/executives (not all of them and not enough) do fight back. Yes, a “travesty of justice is being committed.” Gold mining could stand some closer looks by independent journalists/analysts. Most are afraid of what they will see in their reflection. Please write or check out our informational web site at Sadly, Original Sixteen to One Mine, Inc. is now the oldest company and the longest gold mine operator in the United States.

Bill Rice JR. article is found at :
 By Michael Miller

07/18/2014  10:25AM

Most people cannot understand the compounding effect that has befallen on California due to the enforcement of its political leader’s actions or inaction. Most people cannot comprehend that those elected public servants have place a bureaucracy to enforce their laws incapable of applying common sense. Common sense!

Californians let their government fall to special interest rhetoric. This rhetoric feeds on fear, fear instilled by untruths and self-preservation by public servants paid to carry forth the public’s work “for the public benefit”. California received an “F-“ grade , not an “F” for poor treatment of small business. Yes, that is an F minus. Can it get any worse? Of course it can. Can this pessimistic, non-economic and scientific exercise in public service management be turned around? Of course it can.

Are you interested? Will you help?
 By Michael Miller

07/15/2014  2:12PM

My friend [see entry below] thought Californians and Americans should keep getting facts like this. His letter to me follows mine. The subject is another costly and unneeded regulation. Read it before you read this July 15, 2014 email from Sierra County. What do you think? Good old Thomas Henry Huxley wrote it best:

Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the rejection of authority. Peter, Paul and Mary sang, “when will we ever learn, when will we ever learn”.

July 15, 2014
Mike Miller,
As a follow-up to our conversation at the Sierra Fund lunch in Downieville, I mentioned that when CalEPA did an audit of our CUPA program here in Sierra County, they said that we were not regulating all of our facilities. They specifically identified the Sixteen to One Mine as not being included as a CUPA Facility and also the Agricultural Handlers (Farmers, Ranchers). I need to submit another CUPA evaluation follow-up report at the end of this month indicating progress on compliance with regulating our facilities in Sierra County. Therefore, I need to make arrangements meet with you & include the Sixteen to One Mine on our CUPA inventory and make sure that your hazardous materials inventory is updated in the new statewide electronic database (California Environmental Reporting System, or CERS).

The Business Plan program was established in 1986. Its purpose is to prevent or minimize the damage to public health and safety and the environment, from a release or threatened release of hazardous materials. It also satisfies community right-to-know laws. This is accomplished by requiring businesses that handle hazardous materials in quantities equal to or greater than: 55 gallons of a liquid,  500 pounds of a solid,  200 cubic feet of compressed gas,  or extremely hazardous substances above the threshold planning quantity (40 CFR, Part 355, Appendix A) to:
 Inventory their hazardous materials
 Develop site map
 Develop an emergency plan
 Implement a training program for employees

Businesses Must Report Electronically to CERS (California Environmental Reporting System, or CERS) instead of on paper forms.
Website link:
What is CERS?
The California Environmental Reporting System (CERS) is a statewide web-based system to support California Unified Program Agencies (CUPAs) and Participating Agencies (PAs) in electronically collecting and reporting various hazardous materials-related data as mandated by the California Health and Safety Code and new 2008 legislation (AB 2286). Under oversight by Cal/EPA, CUPAs implement Unified Program mandates that streamline and provide consistent regulatory activities. Could you be available to meet with me on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 in the afternoon? Thanks.
Elizabeth Morgan, MPH, REHS Director of Environmental Health
Sierra County Environmental Health P.O. Box 7 Loyalton, CA 96118
(530) 993-6716 (New E-mail Address 4-25-2014)
 By Michael Miller

07/15/2014  1:46PM

Last Sunday the Sacramento Bee published an article about the best and worse states for small business in America. Five states received an F grade: Illinois, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island and California (F-). Excessive governmental regulations were the primary reason. It seemed correct to me, based on what I (Mike and I are old friends)read about agencies headquartered in Sacramento. Is it a malaise of blanket over rules? Or could it be specifically directed at producers? Or is it focused on gold mines? Or is it designed to control or conduct the affairs of Original Sixteen to One Mine?

It would take some self-narcissistic wacko to think some small gold mining company would draw the attention of governments’ well paid authoritative public servants to order, instruct and command a lowly Sierra County Director of Environmental Health to drive another spike into the heart of such inconsequential business. Why would California pick on the Sixteen to One business? But think again.

I just hung up the phone after calling Michael Miller, president of this inconsequential gold mining company. He is not a wacko yet his intensity about a call he received shortly before my call shook me to write him this letter. He can put it on his website or not. Mike, you must.

Mike told about a call from Elizabeth Morgan, Sierra County environmental Health. She said that 5 guys drove up to Quincy and ordered her to drive up to meet them. They specifically asked why the Sixteen to One mine was not in her California Environment Reporting System. One told her to get the Sixteen to One. No other mines were targeted or mentioned. She called to “get us regulated”. She wanted to drive to Alleghany to do an inspection. Mike said mines are heavily inspected and he didn’t have spare time. She faces demands from State regulators to get it done. She said the fed EPA was demanding this. Mike questioned was this driven by California or federal regulators. She didn’t know. After a lively conversation, she said she would send him an email explaining. (Mike, copy the email you read me for the internet). This appears to be California driven.
Lynwood West

04/29/2014  5:19PM

You must check this out. One of the Sixteen’s biggest shareholders is being honored this week in Austin Texas. You will read about this event at the following web site.

Blair and Mike were class mates at UCSB, Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers and longtime friends. Blair deserves this award, so go read about his accomplishments.

Do you remember that dark day in 1987, when the stock markets were free falling? Panic is not the word for those witnessing that day. Something happened that changed the course of history and saved the markets and the country from collapse. As the sell-off continued unabated, desperation would be how to describe it. Someone began buying. Someone stopped the collapse and serious despair that hung over the money market. Someone stepped forward in the midst of the crisis. It was Blair Hull, who began placing buy orders. This fact is not widely known but Blair deserves much more than the facts stated to the Sullivan award he receives this week. Check it out.

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