According to the Associated Press, John Renner from Patriot Coal’s Federal No. 2 longwall operation pleaded guilty in March to a January 24 charge that he made false statements and certifications under federal mine safety laws.
Specifically, Renner said he recorded methane and oxygen level readings from a sealed area at the operation near Fairview in the northern region of the state, but acknowledged later he did not perform the inspection.
The AP said that federal court records indicate that the government requested the delay. The sentencing had been set for August 2 but will now be held January 4.
Renner, who is cooperating with a federal investigation of the mine, faces as much as five years prison time and a $US10,000 fine, according to the news service.
West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training spokesperson Jama Jarrett told International Longwall News in February that the state’s mine inspectors opened an investigation for the complex after Renner’s admission of guilt.
The agency was seeking the suspension and ultimate revocation of his certification at the time.
Because a federal investigation was launched after the admission, Jarrett noted, the state’s investigation ceased and witnesses in the criminal probe have since declined comment to WVOMHST inspectors.
US Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesperson Amy Louviere told ILN earlier this year that federal officials could not comment on an ongoing investigation.
Neither agency provided public comment Tuesday.
The Federal mine is a union-represented longwall and room and pillar operation that extracts from the Pittsburgh seam under an average seam height of 7 feet.
Other Patriot Coal complexes in Appalachia include Big Mountain, Blue Creek, Campbell’s Creek, Corridor G, Kanawha Eagle, Logan County, Paint Creek, Panther, Rocklick and Wells.
The producer sold more than 20.6 million tons of coal from all of its mines in the region in 2008.
Patriot Coal was spun off from Peabody Energy in 2007. The operator purchased Magnum Coal in 2008, doubling its Appalachian production base.