The US Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has issued notices to ten mine operators it says could stand accused of a string of violations of mandatory health or safety standards.
Under an MSHA act, the violations include exposure to hazards and negligence by the mine operations.
MSHA deputy assistant secretary for policy Dr Gregory R Wagner said the nine coal mines and one metal / non-metal mine were the fifth round of mine operators to be given such notices.
"We hope this notification will encourage these ten mine operators to integrate necessary improvements into their safety and health programmes," Wagner said.
In accordance with the procedure, MSHA issues a written notification to mine operators that have a recurrent pattern of significant and substantial (S&S) violations at a mine. An S&S breach is one that could result in a serious illness or injury.
According to the MSHA, the operators violated Section 104 (e) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act).
The operator can analyse and comment on the written notification and draft a corrective action proposal to decrease S&S violations to reverse the potential pattern.
During the ensuing three months, MSHA will scrutinise every impacted mine's compliance record while carrying out a thorough examination.
In case the corrective action is not in line with criteria, MSHA will send the notification. MSHA will send an order mandating withdrawal of miners from the impacted area till the cited stipulation is rectified.
An operator can be exempt from a pattern of violations when an examination of the whole mine is concluded and no S&S violations are observed or no withdrawal order is sent by MSHA in line with Section 104(e)(1) of the Mine Act within three months of the issuance of the pattern notice.