According to the Emery County Progress, the Utah Division of the Oil, Gas and Mining agency has ordered the mine to stop production and perform no further development. There is about three weeks left on the current panel.
The UDOGM told the paper the order stemmed from a compliance action from 2008, when former owner CW Mining sold the operation to Hiawatha Coal. A permit transfer was started and an application submitted, but Hiawatha’s paperwork and bond posting was never completed.
CW Mining, which was in the bankruptcy court at the time, was not able to transfer the permit because of the complexity of the situation. Because the companies did not work to complete the necessary permit documentation, the office had no choice but to order the stoppage.
"We didn't feel like we could do anything else," UDOGM director John Baza said, adding that the order now prohibited Hiawatha from making amendments to the permit and bond.
The decision now lies in the hands of a bankruptcy court, the Progress said, as to whether Hiawatha can continue to mine coal, therefore allowing the case’s trustees to be financially reimbursed. The trustee panel may also elect to allow another operator to take over operations.
The court told the UDOGM that CW Mining did not sell the mine properly, alleging it sold the operation to Hiawatha before declaring bankruptcy so that it could avoid paying creditors. However, the state agency said it would work with those trustees to get Hiawatha permitted if they opted for that outcome.
"The mine will reopen, there is just too much coal there to just leave it,” Baza said to the paper, noting that the trustees have until June to make a decision and that there may be a time lag of about one month between the closure and reopening.
When the operation was owned by CW Mining, it was managed by president Charles Reynolds. ILN was not able to reach Reynolds or the company’s engineering spokesperson for comment.
US Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesperson Amy Louviere told ILN that Bear Canyon currently remained “a state issue”
“MSHA will have some ground issues the company must address on the next panel,” she noted.