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Press Release

Drumlummon Mine and Operator Guilty of Safety Violations: Will Pay $36,750 in Fines and Community Service

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

HELENA – Drumlummon Gold Corporation (DGC) and its operator, Seibert Smith, 74, of Helena, MT, pleaded guilty yesterday to failing to comply with a U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) order.  The charge stemmed from a superseding information filed in late September by the United States.  Smith and a representative of the Corporation appeared before District Court Judge Charles Lovell in Helena to enter the guilty pleas.  Judge Lovell ordered DGC to pay a $17,500 fine and a $17,500 community service payment to the State Department of Labor, Mine Safety Bureau.  Smith must pay a $1,750 fine.

The sentences were a result of a plea agreement entered into by the United States and the defendants.  Had the case proceeded to trial, the United States was prepared to prove that DGC, the operator of an underground gold mine at Marysville, Montana, operated in such a way and produced products that affected interstate commerce from 2011 to 2013.  During this period, Smith was a manager or agent of DGC and served as the mine’s safety supervisor.    The maximum penalty for failure to comply with an MSHA order is one year imprisonment and $250,000 in fines for individuals, and $250,000 in fines for an organization.

Acting on an anonymous complaint about an unreported accident at the mine involving a utility vehicle, MSHA sent an inspector to investigate and interview the mine superintendent alleged to be responsible for the accident.  Smith was initially unable to supply the superintendent’s training records but subsequently provided records indicating that the superintendent had been trained on the utility vehicle in September of 2011.  Upon further inspection, the MSHA inspector noted that the records appeared to have been falsified.  MSHA determined that the equipment-specific training allegedly provided to the Superintendent could not have occurred in 2011 as indicated by the training records, because the utility vehicle did not arrive on mine property until March of 2012.  The United States was prepared to demonstrate that Smith was aware of the fact that the superintendent could not have received the training on the date indicated in the training record he provided to MSHA.

Smith and DGC were originally indicted in May 2015 on two counts of false statements and falsification of mine records.  Smith and DGC ultimately pleaded guilty to the superseding information filed by the United States on September 28th, alleging failure to comply with an MSHA order.  In briefing provided to the court, the United States supported a sentence requiring payment of community service to the State Department of Labor and Industry Mine Safety Bureau.  That agency administers grants for mine safety training.  The community service payment by DGC will provide safety training to Montana miners required by both state and federal law.

“This is the first criminal case prosecuted under the Mine Safety and Health Act in Montana” said U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter.  “The decision to pursue criminal sanctions is symbolic of the United States’ commitment to stringently protect the safety of workers in this industry.”  MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main stated: "Mine operators are responsible for training their miners so that they can work safely in the mining environment, and when they don’t, they will be held accountable.  It’s an investment that will help ensure these men and women return home to their families after every shift."

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kris McLean.

Updated February 4, 2016

Labor & Employment
Press Release Number: MELISSA HORNBEIN, Public Information Officer, (406) 457-5277