Mining Resumes at Quecreek Mine

Nov. 22, 2002
Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved a permit revision allowing the re-opening of the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County, but only after exploratory drilling proves the miners will not mine into abandoned mine workings.

"We are requiring Black Wolf Coal Co. to drill horizontally 2,000 feet from both sides of the entry where the miners were trapped to ensure there are no other abandoned voids projecting out from the old Saxman Mine toward the Quecreek Mine," said DEP Secretary David E. Hess. "By drilling, they have provided the kind of hard evidence Gov. Mark Schweiker directed companies to provide to be certain miners would not be endangered by hitting abandoned mine workings."

The Department of Community and Economic Development is working with PBS Coals, the owner of Quecreek Mine, on a financial assistance package to support the acquisition of equipment to be used in the mining operation. This support will aid the restarting of mine operations. PBS Coals owned the equipment lost during the accident.

The approved permit revision reduces the area Black Wolf Coal Co. will mine in the Quecreek Mine and substantially increases the safety barrier between it and the abandoned Saxman Mine from the previously permitted 300 feet to 500 feet. No mining will occur in that 500-foot area.

Also included in the revision is a map showing projected mining in the Quecreek Mine for the first six months after production resumes.

"We believe the measures taken will keep the miners safe while allowing the Quecreek Mine to once again begin production and provide much needed income for their families," said Hess.

Black Wolf Coal Co. also submitted ventilation and other plans to DEP's Bureau of Deep Mine Safety for approval. DEP and federal mine inspectors inspected the mine itself and electrical equipment and systems several times during the rehabilitation and after the work was completed.

Nine men were trapped in the Quecreek Mine for 77 hours in late July. The mine flooded when the miners broke through to the abandoned Saxman mine, thinking they were hundreds of feet away from the old mine.

For more on the Quecreek Mine accident and rescue, see "MSHA Begins Quecreek Mine Investigation, Review of Maps" and "Investigators Issue Preliminary Report about Causes of Quecreek Mine Accident."

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