Dotiki mine operator Webster County Coal said substantial progress had been made and it was believed the fire had been successfully isolated and smothered.
The Dotiki mine, located near Providence, Kentucky, was temporarily idled following a mine fire that originated with a diesel supply tractor.
After installation of an initial set of temporary seals from the surface and injection of nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases effectively isolated the fire and rendered the mine atmosphere inert. Webster County Coal then re-entered the mine late last week.
Once underground, recovery personnel were able to construct a second set of temporary seals to further contain the area of the mine impacted by the fire. Over the weekend, mine rescue teams and Webster County Coal employees began construction of permanent seals designed to completely isolate the affected area of the Dotiki mine.
Permanent seals have been constructed in two of these affected areas and Webster County Coal currently anticipates completion of the third and final permanent seal area
by the end of the week.
“Through the intensive efforts of our employees and the invaluable assistance and cooperation of officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, it appears we have successfully isolated and smothered the Dotiki mine fire,” said operations senior vice president Charles Wesley.
“We are indebted to all of our employees for their around-the-clock work, the federal and state mining officials who have been on-site throughout the entire process, and the local community for their support in our efforts thus far.”
Once the permanent seals are completed, mine rescue teams will then conduct thorough
examinations of the entire Dotiki mine. Information gathered during the examinations will be used to develop plans and establish timelines for rehabilitating the Dotiki mine infrastructure and returning the mine to production.
While the Dotiki mine recovery and rehabilitation efforts continue, Webster County Coal, in conjunction with its affiliates, White County Coal and Warrior Coal has temporarily transferred a majority of its employees from Dotiki to these affiliates.
With this relocation of Webster County Coal employees, expanded seven-day production schedules have begun at the Pattiki mine, operated by White County Coal in White County, Illinois, and the Warrior mine, operated by Warrior Coal near Madisonville, Kentucky. These Webster County Coal employees will be transferred back to Webster County Coal as the Dotiki mine recovery efforts progress and operations are resumed.
The Dotiki mine produced an average of 407,000 tons per month of high-sulfur coal last year from the Kentucky No. 9 coal seam. Production from the mine during 2004 was forecast at approximately 454,000 tons per month with actual production in January 2004 of approximately 467,000 tons of coal.
The mine, which employs approximately 360 workers, utilizes continuous mining units and room-and-pillar techniques.