Upper Big Branch mine closed *update*

ON THE eve of the second anniversary of the mine explosion that killed 29 miners, Upper Big Branch owner Alpha Natural Resources has announced the tragic operation will be forever closed.
Upper Big Branch mine closed *update* Upper Big Branch mine closed *update* Upper Big Branch mine closed *update* Upper Big Branch mine closed *update* Upper Big Branch mine closed *update*

The Upper Big Branch mine.

Noel Dyson

Alpha has given no reason for the mine’s closure although ILN understands UBB’s coal was close to exhausted and company subsidiary Independence Coal would take its place in the mining mix.

Also, Alpha would have faced a tough battle to bring the blighted mine back into production.

Meanwhile, reports abound the family of fallen miner Edward Dean Jones is suing former Massey energy chief Don Blankenship.

Massey Energy Company owned the mine at the time of the explosion. Alpha acquired the idle mine last June when it bought Massey. It is understood the lawsuit does not target Massey or Alpha.

Alpha is working on the plan to seal UBB with the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

The portals will be permanently sealed with concrete barriers and the areas around those portals will be reclaimed.

All boreholes will be plugged and mine fan shafts capped, barring further access to the mine.

The work is expected to begin soon and be completed through the northern summer.

Alpha chief executive officer Kevin Crutchfield said the mine was a solemn reminder of why safety had to come before everything.

“Though two years have passed, everyone still has vivid memories of the tragedy and the suffering the miners’ families endured,” he said.

“When Massey joined Alpha last year we brought all 7000 Massey employees through our proprietary Running Right safety process, which led to a significant improvement in safety performance.

“We are currently making significant safety-related investments in leading-edge technologies that will make coal mines safer throughout the industry.

“And this June Alpha will break ground on the Running Right Leadership Academy, a state-of-the-art centre for safety training that will eventually be open to the entire industry.”