Gas levels idle Illinois mine

A US Midwest underground operation has been shut down since earlier this month due to excessive methane gas levels, the complex’s owner told local media this week.

Donna Schmidt

According to Illinois newspaper the Journal News, the Crown III mine will remain closed until the problem is rectified. Human resources vice-president Tom Austin told the news outlet that nitrogen was being pumped into the impacted sections in the meantime.

He said mine owner Springfield Coal Company and operator Centre Crown Mining had already spent almost $US1 million on the installation of both new seals and metal plates to strengthen existing ones.

United Mine Workers local president Tony Leibscher told the paper that December 10 had been the mine’s target reopen date, but continued high methane gas levels had kept the mine shut. Mine officials said they had been contacting workers early in the day to let them know if they should report for work.

“Centre Crown will not do anything to jeopardise employees. It wants to make sure everything is safe,” Austin told the State Journal-Register.

Crown III employs about 240 workers, 216 of whom work underground. Officials confirmed to local media that the impacted workers would be eligible for unemployment after Friday.