Subdivision 1. Inspections. The duties of the inspector of mines shall be to visit in person or by assistants all the working mines of the inspector's county at least once every 90 days and oftener if requested so to do as hereinafter provided, and closely inspect the mines so visited and condemn all such places where the employees are in danger from any cause, whether resulting from careless mining or defective machinery or appliances of any nature. The inspector shall compel the erection of a partition between all shafts where hoisting of ore is performed, and where there are ladder ways, where workers must ascend or descend going to and from their work. In case the inspector of mines shall find that a place is dangerous from any cause, as aforesaid, it shall be the inspector's duty immediately to order those engaged in the work at that place to quit work, and notify the superintendent, agent, or person in charge to secure the place from the existing danger, which notification or order shall be in writing, clearly define the limits of the dangerous place, and specify the work to be done or change to be made to render the same secure, ordinary mine risks excepted. It shall be the duty of the inspector of mines to order the person, persons, or corporation working any mine, or the agent, superintendent, lead supervisor, or other person having immediate charge of the working of any mine, to furnish all shafts, open pits, caves, and chutes of such mine where danger exists with some secure safeguard at the top of the shaft, open pit, cave, or chute, so as to guard against accidents by persons falling therein or by material falling down the same, also a covering overhead on all the carriages on which persons ascend or descend up and down the shaft, if in the inspector's judgment it shall be practicable and necessary for the purpose of safety.
Subd. 2. Fences. Every person, firm, or corporation that is or has been engaged in the business of mining or removing iron ore, taconite, semitaconite or other minerals except sand, crushed rock, and gravel shall erect and maintain, as a minimum, a three strand wire fence along the outside perimeter of the excavation, open pit, or shaft of any mine in which mining operations have ceased for a period of six consecutive months or longer. However, based upon local site conditions that may exist at shafts, caves, or open pits, the county mine inspector may require more secure fencing such as barbed wire or mesh fence, or may require barriers, appropriate signs, or any combination of the above, to reduce the possibility of accidental falls. The county mine inspector may grant exemptions under subdivision 4. In the case of open pit mines in which mining operations cease after November 1, 1979, and before March 1, 1980, the fence, barrier, signs, or combination of them shall be erected as soon as possible after March 1, 1980. Where mining operations cease on or after March 1, 1980, the fence, barrier, signs, or combination of them shall be erected forthwith. In the case of open pit mines in which mining operations had ceased for a period of six consecutive months or longer before November 1, 1979, and not resumed, the fence, barrier, signs, or combination of them shall be erected within two years from the date when the county mine inspector directs the erection of fences, barriers, signs, or combination of them. Any fence, barrier, signs, or combination of them, required by an inspector of mines pursuant to subdivision 3 or other applicable law, shall meet the standards of this section as a minimum. This subdivision does not apply to any excavation, open pit, or shaft, or any portion thereof, exempted from its application by the commissioner of natural resources pursuant to laws relating to mineland reclamation, exempted from its application by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board under actions taken by the board, or exempted from its application by the county mine inspector pursuant to subdivision 4.
Subd. 3. Abandoned mines. When any mine is idle or abandoned it shall be the duty of the inspector of mines to notify the person, firm, or corporation that is or has been engaged in the business of mining to erect and maintain around all the shafts, caves, and open pits of such mines a fence, barrier, appropriate signs, or combination of them, suitable to warn of the presence of shafts, caves, or open pits and reduce the possibility of accidentally falling into these shafts, caves, or open pits. If the mine has been idled or abandoned for more than ten years, or if the person, firm, or corporation that has been engaged in the business of mining no longer exists, the fee owner shall erect the fence, barrier, or signs required by this section. The notice shall be in writing and be served upon such person, firm, corporation, or fee owner by certified mail.
Subd. 4. Exemptions. Upon written application, the county mine inspector may exempt from the requirements of subdivision 2, any abandoned excavation, open pit, or shaft which is provided with fencing, barriers, appropriate signs, or combinations of them, in a manner that is reasonably similar to the standards set forth in subdivision 2, or which in the inspector's judgment does not constitute a safety hazard.
Subd. 5. Aquaculture exemption. Upon written notice to the county mine inspector, a person, firm, or corporation that is actively and exclusively engaged in the business of cold water aquaculture shall be exempt from the requirements of subdivision 3. The exemption shall only apply to those portions of idle or abandoned open pit mines that are actively being used for aquaculture operations and that are owned by the person, firm, or corporation. A landowner exempted assumes all responsibility for inspection and safety measures pertaining to the affected parcels of land and the county mine inspector is relieved of inspection requirements. The notice provided to the county mine inspector pursuant to this subdivision shall be annual and shall be filed with the county mine inspector's office by January 15 of each year. The notice shall describe the affected parcels of land and shall provide a sworn affidavit by the landowner that the subject property will be actively and exclusively used for aquaculture purposes during the calendar year. Failure to comply with the notice requirement of this subdivision makes the idle or abandoned open pit mines subject to the provisions of subdivision 3.
HIST: (4235) 1905 c 166 s 3; 1951 c 687 s 3; 1978 c 596 s 1; 1979 c 333 s 91; 1980 c 614 s 98; 1982 c 639 s 34; 1983 c 156 s 1; 1984 c 654 art 2 s 119; 1Sp1985 c 13 s 287-289; 1986 c 444; 1988 c 530 s 5,6; 1994 c 642 s 6