Utah coal mine closes admist safety issues | PostIndependent.com

Utah coal mine closes admist safety issues

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) ” Utah’s Tower mine, the deepest coal mine in the United States, was closed Friday because of safety problems.

UtahAmerican Energy Inc. was forced to close the mine because of “unexpected and unusual stress” in mine pillars that threatened the safety of miners, chief executive P. Bruce Hill said.

The company wanted to relocate a longwall mining machine inside Tower but found the conditions unsafe. Changes ordered by federal regulators contributed to the mine’s closing, Hill said.

The Murray Energy Corp. subsidiary closed the mine for several weeks last summer as engineers tested its ability to withstand seismic shocks that plagued the company’s Crandall Canyon mine near Huntington, Utah, where nine people died in two cave-ins.

The Tower mine, seven miles north of Price, Utah, reopened in late January.

The company’s statement didn’t specify whether the Tower mine, previously known as the Aberdeen mine, was being permanently shut down. It is the same mine that was slapped with $420,000 in fines for “flagrant” safety violations on March 20.

It was also unclear how many people work at the mine.

William Pariseau, a professor of mining engineering at the University of Utah, said the Tower mine follows a coal seam as deep as 2,750 feet.

Pariseau is part of a team of university researchers that presented findings about the dangers of deep coal mining Thursday at a conference at the federal Bureau of Land Management in Salt Lake City.

The research showed the Tower mine needed to maintain its 500-foot-wide solid coal barriers for safety, Pariseau said.

UtahAmerican said Tower is the deepest operating coal mine in the United States.

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