The mine, the state’s largest, was sealed February 16 after a cave-in behind the longwall equipment two days earlier ignited methane that is believed to have started a fire. Ninety-four miners were underground at the time.
“No miners or recovery workers were seriously injured during the evacuation or mine recovery,” said deputy assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health David Dye. “This is an excellent example of how the mining industry and government agencies can cooperate to put more than 400 people back to work safely and expeditiously.”
In what MSHA calls “a team effort”, the department worked with representatives from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) to review and grant approvals to owner Consol Energy’s resumption plans. After evaluating those plans as well as gas samples, reventilation efforts were launched May 14.
Two weeks later on May 23, Consol sent 12 rescue teams from four states underground to perform recovery efforts, accompanied by MSHA and DMME officials. The exploration efforts were completed May 29 and the mine’s work force reported back to work June 2 to continue underground repair work.
Buchanan, which produces some 4.4 million tons of coal per year, resumed coal production on a limited basis June 13.