No plans to reopen Crandall Canyon Mine, firm says

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Murray Energy Corp. executive said Saturday that the company has no plans to reopen the Utah coal mine where six miners and three rescuers were killed in 2007.

The announcement followed a report Friday citing a Bureau of Land Management official who said the company had expressed an interest in reopening the Crandall Canyon Mine at a future, unspecified date.

The Ohio-based company initially declined to comment on the report.

But Murray Energy Vice President Rob Murray told KSL (http://bit.ly/NTU6g8) on Saturday that there are "no plans whatsoever to reopen the mine, nor is it even under the slightest consideration."

Roger Bankert, a supervisor with the BLM's Division of Lands and Minerals, told KSL earlier that Murray Energy has maintained a lease at the mine and expressed an interest in mining there again in the future.

Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the collapse at the underground mine that killed six miners. It was so powerful that it initially registered as a magnitude 3.9 earthquake. Another cave-in 10 days later killed three members of a rescue team.

The operation was called off after drilling into the mountain found no sign of the trapped men. Their bodies remain deep in the mine's catacombs.

Daron Haddock, a manager with the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, said the mine's reopening would be controversial because "basically it's a grave" for the deceased miners and rescuers.

The mine is not economically feasible right now because of falling coal prices, he said, and it could only be reopened after costly work.

Murray Energy essentially has 20 years from the time of the closure to either act on the lease or relinquish it. If the lease is relinquished and not sold, the state is potentially interested in reclaiming the site, Haddock said.

The lease is for 3,517 acres, and the company must pay fees to maintain it without active drilling.

"The coal reserves in the area of Crandall Canyon and elsewhere are our assets, and we are simply doing what required by law to maintain control of our assets — nothing more, nothing less," Murray wrote by email Saturday.

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