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Canyon Fuel cleared for limited reentry

Dugout Canyon mine exterior facilities.

Canyon Fuel Co. has received clearance from the Mine Safety and Health Administration to re-enter the Dugout Canyon Mine to install a special air monitoring system.

The mine has been closed since June 22 because evidence showed a "heating incident" at the mine. There have been no visible flames, but air quality measurements indicated a small increase in levels of gases produced as coal begins to heat up.

The company voluntarily evacuated the mine and MSHA then issued a closure order.

"While we are focused on resuming operations at the earliest possible time, our first priority is to insure the safety of the miners," said Gene DiClaudio, President of Arch Western Bituminous Group, owner of Canyon Fuel.

Meanwhile, miners at Dugout Canyon have been offered the opportunity to relocate temporarily to other Canyon Fuel mines in Utah and Colorado, according to Arch Coal spokeswoman Kim Link. Canyon Fuel operates the Skyline and Sufco mines in Utah and the West Elk mine in Colorado.

She said that the company is not yet able to fix a timeline for corrective action and eventual reopening, but hopes to have one in the near future.The company will continue to work closely with MSHA and state mining agencies to resolve the situation.

This is the second closure of the mine for heating incidents this year. On April 29, the mine was idled for about three weeks while it sealed off the affected area.

The mine has 275 employees and produced about 200,000 tons of coal during the first quarter of this year.

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