MSHA: 64 Percent of Mines Lack Communications Gear

April 11, 2011

Government figures show the U.S. coal industry remains well short of meeting a 5-year-old congressional mandate to equip underground mines with high-tech communications and tracking gear.

Mine Safety and Health Administration official Dave Chirdon says 192 of 529 coal mines across the country had installed the proper equipment as of February. That works out to 64 percent still needing the gear.

Chirdon says compliance stood at 6.4 percent a year ago. Just 34 mines had the proper gear then.

Mines have until June 15 to finish installing the gear. MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere says mines face enforcement action if they’re not ready. She declined to say how they would be disciplined.

The mandate was imposed after the January 2006 deaths of 12 West Virginia miners trapped following an explosion.

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