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U.S. Department of Labor

Mine Safety and Health Administration
201 12th Street South, Suite 401
Arlington, VA 22202-5450

ISSUE DATE: February 21, 2014
LAST VALIDATED: 03/31/2021


                       Director of Technical Support

                       Acting Administrator for
                       Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

                       KEVIN G. STRICKLIN  
                       Administrator for
                       Coal Mine Safety and Health

SUBJECT:    Reissue of P12-08 - Global Positioning System (GPS) and
                  Established Surface Stations or Markers

Who needs this information?
Operators of underground coal or metal and nonmetal mines, independent contractors, miners' representatives, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) enforcement personnel, state mining agencies, and other interested parties need this information.

What is the purpose of this bulletin?
This Program Information Bulletin (PIB) informs the mining industry of potential alternatives when inclement weather renders satellite linked Global Position System (GPS) surveying equipment data collection slow or inoperable.

GPS surveying has greatly enhanced the accuracy and timeliness of surveying. However, mine accidents that trap miners may occur during inclement weather. During times of inclement weather, the GPS satellite link may be lost or the data collection system may be slow or inoperable. In these cases, conventional surveying methods must be used. In preparation for these circumstances, MSHA recommends that mine operators:

  • Establish strategic surface stations or markers over the underground active working sections as a routine part of the mining advancement. These surface markers must be readily accessible and easily located in the event they need to be used to determine a miner's exact location or surface drilling site.
  • Protect markers from the elements and vandalism. Markers should be easily recognizable by any survey crew operating during times of an emergency.
  • Show markers on a map that also depicts surface features such as roads, streams, powerlines, etc.
  • Operators may consider including the surface marker's placement in the mine's emergency preparedness planning.
  • Environmental permitting and property acquisitions should include access for the setting of surface markers during active mining.
  • Implementing these suggestions will aid in the rapid determination of surface borehole drilling locations in the event of an emergency.

    What is the background for this PIB?
    Past incidents have highlighted potential problems associated with sole reliance on GPS surveying technology.

    What is MSHA's authority for this PIB?
    The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977; 30 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as amended by the MINER Act, Pub. L. No. 109-236, June 15, 2006.

    Is this PIB on the Internet?
    This PIB may be viewed on the World Wide Web by accessing the MSHA home page ( and choosing "Compliance Info" and "Program Information Bulletins."

    Who is the MSHA contact person for this PIB?
    Mine Safety and Health Enforcement
    Marcus Smith, (202) 693-9547

    Technical Support
    Jeffery Kravitz, (412) 386-6923

    Who will receive this PIB?
    MSHA Program Policy Manual Holders Underground Mine Operators
    Mine Equipment Manufacturers Miners' Representatives
    Special Interest Groups