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Foreback Reappointed As State Mine Inspector

SANTA FE, N.M. July 20, 2011 – Terence Foreback, a 24-year New Mexico resident and third-generation coal miner, recently was reappointed as State Mine Inspector by Gov. Susana Martinez, and thus retains his office on the New Mexico Tech campus.
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 N.M. Secretary of State Dianna Duran swears in Terence Foreback for another term as State Mine Inspector.

Gov. Martinez made the announcement on June 30 for the term which began the following day. Foreback, 57, first was appointed to the post by former governor, Bill Richardson, and confirmed by the State Senate in 2007.

Foreback previously worked for the Mining and Minerals Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, following 26 years in the private mining industry prior to his appointment.

“We are pleased to have Terence reappointed to his post with the New Mexico Bureau of Mine Safety,” said Dr. Daniel H. López, president of New Mexico Tech.

“In addition to his vast experience, Terence has been very successful in organizing the annual New Mexico Mine Health and Safety Conference, and in keeping the issue of mining health and safety before the public,” López said.

That experience is both personal and professional.

“I know the pain of underground mining accidents and health related issues, having lost an uncle in a roof fall and having a grandfather and father struggle with black lung disease,” he said.

Foreback got his first taste of the underground mine business at the age of 18, following in the steps of his father and grandfather, both also members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and with 53 years of underground mine experience between them.

As a graduate mining engineer, and a professional engineer registered in New Mexico, Foreback understands the technical issues surrounding today’s mining industry.

Just as important was time spent as a UMWA laborer working in underground coal, engineering assignments in phosphate and surface coal mines, and field assignments as a supervisor of reclamation, truck and shovel, draglines and drilling and blasting operations.

Foreback came to New Mexico by way of Colorado, where he spent 11 years in Denver and Steamboat Springs, working in the coal business for The Pittsburg and Midway Coal Mining Company.

Foreback feels fortunate to have the professional staff at BMS comprised of Chris Hefner, Associate State Mine Inspector; Larry Sanchez, Safety and Training Specialist; and Jacoby Boles, Administration Specialist.  “Chris and Larry bring many years of professional experience in the mining industry to their safety and education efforts,” said Foreback.

One of his greatest pleasures in working in the mining industry is the camaraderie shared among miners.

“We are definitely a band of brothers in this industry, one that relatively few other people work in or understand,” Foreback said.

While mining can be dangerous work, it is not listed among the top 10 hazardous jobs. “Mining is a safe industry, and safety is the number-one priority of the New Mexico Bureau of Mine Safety,” he said.

“This office is responsible for the safety of New Mexico’s 6,000 miners and the 200 mines scattered across the state,” said Foreback.

He is well versed in mine safety laws, and believes in working on mine safety by bringing all entities together – the companies, the unions, other regulatory agencies and the mine workers themselves – to work collaboratively toward a mutual goal.

“We all have limited resources,” Foreback added. “So we all need to work together with the resources we have to protect the health and safety of our miners.”

The New Mexico Mine Health and Safety Conference launched by Foreback drew 150 participants its first year; the conference last April had 170 participants and featured two diverse speakers: Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health (MSHA), and Jared Fogel, the spokesman for Subway restaurants. “Jared was very popular and his message on health was to the point and very well received,” Foreback said.

The mining industry has been making a comeback, as evidenced by a Freeport-McMoRan announcement last October that it would be restarting operations at the Chino mine in Santa Rita, and planning $150 million in refurbishments and new equipment.  The company has hired 500 employees to put the mine back in operation.

“Commodity prices are up, and parts of the mining industry are doing very well,” he said. “We are very concerned about the aggregate industry though, due to the continued downturn in construction and housing.”

In his spare time, Foreback, an ardent cyclist, enjoys hiking, music, landscape gardening and studying history. “The winter climate in New Mexico allows me to enjoy all types of outdoor activities” he said.

“New Mexico Tech is an incredibly beautiful place to work,” he added. “It truly is the jewel of the desert.”

– NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech