Fees for MSHA’s process of approving mining equipment will go up if a proposed rule issued by the agency goes into effect.

In a Federal Register notice, MSHA said it wants to increase its hourly fee to $121 from $97, for processing applications and for testing, evaluating and approving mining products under its Part 5 regulation. The higher fee also would include indirect costs, such as utilities and depreciation  and maintenance of equipment. Until now, indirect costs had not been built into the hourly rate.

In addition, the agency proposes to add two new fees, billable at the same $121 hourly rate. They are for internal quality control activities and post-approval product audits.

Testing, evaluation and approval is “necessary to assure that approved mine products are designed, manufactured, and maintained so their use will not cause a fire, an explosion, or other accident,” the agency said in the preamble to the proposed rule.

Internal quality controls include internal MSHA audits, and calibration and maintenance of testing equipment. “MSHA uses internal quality control activities to monitor and improve its testing and evaluation processes,” according to the preamble. “These internal quality control activities assure applicants and approval holders that consistent, accurate, and up-to-date scientific methods are used when MSHA is evaluating and testing products.”

As for post-approval audits, MSHA explained that these costs have not been included in approval program charges  because they were considered enforcement activities. These audits are necessary, the preamble stated, “to assure that mining products continue to be manufactured as approved.”

Based on fiscal year 2012 data, MSHA estimated its proposal would have generated an additional $1.5 million per year. Of that amount, $1.2 million would have come from internal quality control activities and post-approval product audits. The remainder, $300,000, represents the amount that would have been collected in excess of the current rule revenue. The $97 fee was set in 2010.

Under existing law, MSHA may retain up to $2.49 million under its Part 5 testing and approval program. Any amount over that must go into the federal government’s general fund.

Public comments are due November 10. They may be mailed, hand-delivered, emailed or submitted through the federal e-rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. All submittals should include the rulemaking identifier RIN 1219-AB82.