Progress reported at West Elk

THE United States' second-largest coal producer, Arch Coal, said it was making progress in its efforts to combat high levels of methane that were impeding production at its West Elk mine in Colorado.

Staff Reporter

"Through an intensive degasification program that includes both surface and in-mine drilling we have significantly improved methane reduction efforts at the mine," said Kenneth G Woodring, Arch Coal's executive vice president of mining operations. "As a result, productivity levels have doubled in recent weeks."

In the second quarter, the mine produced an average of 240,000 tons per month, or approximately 40% of expected production levels. In recent weeks, production levels increased to a rate of approximately 80% of expected production levels.

"We are encouraged by the improvements we have achieved in the mine's operating performance," Woodring said.

"We are taking steps to improve our degasification program still further, while working with the regulatory authorities to ensure that we can continue a focused drilling program from the surface. Based on our recent progress, we currently expect to achieve positive cash flow and break-even financial results at the mine sometime during the fourth quarter."

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