The company said it had made efforts to reduce violations at the mine near Sidney, including the assignment of additional personnel to focus on violation prevention and correction. Massey staff also conducted extensive additional training and performed unannounced internal inspections at Freedom.
Massey chairman Don Blankenship personally visited the mine as part of the company’s October 29 safety stand-down, when the producer idled all of its producing sections for one day to focus on safety efforts.
“Even though Massey continues to believe the mine is safe, it has been mined for several decades and has extensive underground works that present particular challenges to maintain,” the company said.
“As a result, Massey has decided to reassign the resources from this mine to other company facilities.”
Freedom Energy’s crews will be moved to other Massey locations, while others will remain at the mine to recover equipment.
Massey said the decreasing production from Freedom had been anticipated and already incorporated into its most recent 2011 guidance, which was announced in late October.
The US Mine Safety and Health Administration also targeted Massey’s Spartan Mining Ruby Energy complex for a potential POV during its most recent crackdown.
A total of 13 mines in seven states were included in the target group. A 14th mine, Massey’s Upper Big Branch operation, met the criteria but MSHA has postponed action until its investigation into the April 5 explosion at the mine has been concluded.
An ILN request for comment from MSHA regarding the closure was not returned by press time.