Director's Spotlight - October 2010
Protecting a Precious Industry
A column by Larry Rebman, Director, Missouri Department of Labor
Many people don’t realize that minerals play an essential role in the economic health and stability of our state, in fact, the minerals mined in Missouri are used around the globe. Missouri leads the nation in the production of several important minerals, and is home to the only underground iron mine in the country. Mining contributes over eight billion dollars to Missouri’s economy each year, and provides jobs to more than 30,000 men and women. With more than 318 mines and 6,000 caves, it’s obvious how we acquired the nickname of the “Mine and Cave State.”
Missouri’s national mining levels demonstrate our leadership in this industry. We are number one in production of lead and lime, third in zinc, fifth in copper, and sixth in silver. Most Missouri lead is used in car batteries, while some is used in computer and television screens to block radiation. Missouri zinc is used to provide a rust-resistant coating on steel and copper is used to make water pipes and electrical wire. Missouri fire clay is made into refractory brick for steel manufacturing and coats NASA launch pads. Missouri lime is used in paper and cement production. All of these products and services are vital to our modern society.
Because mining has such a huge economic impact on not only Missouri, but the nation as a whole, the Department takes every step it can to protect this precious industry. Mining can be a dangerous occupation, and rigorous safety and training standards are in place. The Department’s Division of Labor Standards is proud that its Mine and Cave Safety and Health Section has a nationally recognized program to protect the mining industry and improve safety not only in Missouri, but across the United States.
Neighboring states Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky and Arkansas lack programs certified by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and continue to utilize their close proximity to such an excellent program and attend training sessions in Missouri. For the 28th consecutive year, we hosted the only underground mine rescue competition in the country, partnering with the United States Department of Labor’s MSHA to create and judge the tests administered to teams from across the nation.
Next time you turn the key to start your car, you can say a little thanks to Missouri mines for producing the lead contained in your battery. We will continue to provide the excellent safety training programs designed to protect Missouri’s ‘diamond in the rough’.
Director's Spotlight Archives
November 2011 - Native American Heritage Month
October 2011 - National Disability Employment Awareness
September 2011 - Labor Day: A Tribute to Missouri's Leadership in Worker Protection
April 2011 - How Housing Fraud Can Crush the American Dream
January 2011 - Worker Misclassification is Bad for Business
December 2010 - Working for the Holidays
November 2010 - Unemployment Benefits: Transitioning to Jobs
October 2010 - Protecting a Precious Industry
September 2010 - Labor Day: A Tribute to Missouri Workers
August 2010 - WorkReadyMissouri: Enhancing Missouri's Workforce
July 2010 - Workers' Compensation: Stepping Up Efforts against those Cheating the System
June 2010 - Preparing Missouri for the Evolving Economy
May 2010 - Workers' Memorial Day 2010
April 2010 - Missouri's Unemployment Update