Virginia bestows safety awards

SEVERAL surface and underground mines across Virginia have been recognized for their safety performance by state mining officials at the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
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The crew of Big Laurel Coal’s Mine No. 2 in Virginia.

Donna Schmidt

Taking home the first place award in the large underground category was Alpha Natural Resources’ Big Laurel mine no. 2 in Wise County.

Crews there worked 173,977 man hours in 2011 without a lost-time accident.

Another six Alpha operations, both underground and surface, were awarded for recording zero non-fatal days last year.

Taking second place in large underground was Paramount Coal’s Deep Mine no. 35 and third place went to Bluff Spur’s No. 1 operation.

Dominion Coal, an arm of SunCoke, was first place in the small underground category for the record of its Mine no. 26 in Buchanan County.

Miners worked 98,443 man hours with zero non-fatal days lost.

The company’s Central Shop, also in Buchanan County, was recognized for 10 consecutive accident-free years.

Coming in second place in small underground was Dickenson-Russell Coal’s Roaring Fork no. 4.

In the third slot was AB&J Coal’s No. 6 mine.

Extra Energy’s Virginia Point no. 1 mine in Tazewell County was the DMME’s first-place honor winner in the large surface category.

It had no non-fatal days lost after 277,666 man hours worked in 2011.

One of its employees, Rickey Fuller, was spotlighted for working 36 years without a lost-time accident.

Clintwood Elkhorn’s Lauren Branch was second in the large surface category and Paramount Coal’s 88 Strip was third.

The DMME said Clinton Elkhorn’s Johnny Hatfield was also given an award for his 34 years recorded without a lost-time injury.

State officials also honored Twin State Mining’s Highwall mine no. 3.

The Buchanan County operation did not have any non-fatal days lost after 40,915 man hours.

Coming in second in the division of small surface was Paramount Coal’s Lover’s Gap no. 4 and Bundy Auger’s Highwall Miner 1 was the bronze winner.

DMME spokesman Mike Abbot told Virginia newspaper the Herald Courier that Virginia had remained below the national average for non-fatal lost day rates in all but one of the past five years.

Since 2007, the state’s mining agency recorded five fatalities in two roof falls; a collapse of a mine face, rib or side; a dislodgement of a high pressure water valve; and a surface mine highwall fall.

Big Laurel superintendent Steve Moore told the paper that he credited the work of his 75 employees with maintaining two-and-a-half years of accident-free operation.

“We run three underground shifts,” he said.

“If they have any problems with safety in the mines, they tell us and we work together to correct them.

“The men are key [and] all of our employees are very safety conscious.”

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