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Rhino disciplines coal mine managers over risks

Published July 8, 2014 12:45 pm

Mine safety • Company, which operates in Utah, reacted to problems in West Virginia.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

New York - Rhino Eastern has changed management at its Eagle Mine 3 after inspectors warned that coal miners faced the risk of deadly explosions and developing black lung disease. The company acknowledged falling short of safety standards.

Rhino Eastern also took other unspecified disciplinary measures aimed at ensuring miners' safety and full compliance with industry and health standards, the company said in an email Tuesday.

Government inspectors found 38 violations at the Wyoming County, West Virginia mine during a June 24 visit that revealed "alarming conditions," the Mine Safety and Health Administration said Monday.

"There is absolutely no excuse for allowing such dangerous conditions to exist, and miners deserve better," MSHA secretary Joseph Main said in the statement.

Violations included failing to follow approved ventilation, methane and dust control plans in several locations, MSHA said. Inspectors revisited the mine after uncovering "a high number of violations" in May.

Rhino Eastern acknowledged that "certain deficiencies" were found during the inspection and that conditions failed to meet the safety compliance standards of both MSHA and the company.

"Management does not condone action or inaction that violates basic safety standards, and will continue to fully cooperate with MSHA to correct all identified sub-standard practices," the company said.

Rhino Eastern is a joint venture between master limited partnership Rhino Resource Partners, which owns 51 percent of the unit, and Patriot Coal Corp., which owns the rest.

Rhino Resource Partners is the operator at Eagle Mine 3, spokesman Scott Morris said.

Rhino Resources also operates the Bear Canyon coal mine in Emery County. It acquired the mine and other holdings of C.W. Mining Co. in Carbon and Emery counties in August 2010.