Consol Energy is now ahead of schedule in constructing permanent seals to isolate an area of its Blacksville No. 2 Mine affected by a fire last month and expects to have the seals completed by early to mid-May, at which time it can begin preparing the mine to resume operations.
The company has not set a date when the mine will resume operations, a decision subject to the approval of state and federal mining agencies, according to an email update issued Monday by Lynn Seay, company spokeswoman.
Consol teams continue to work on seals in the area of the Kuhntown portal and Orndoff air shaft, both in Wayne Township. The teams “are performing well and are ahead of schedule” and have completed building 13 of the 21 seals, Seay said.
New seals also will replace four older sets of seals and reduce the area mine examiners must travel by about 4,000 feet. This also will reduce exposure and hazards to mine employees, she said.
All seal sites have been prepared. Cleaning, bolting and wall construction for all seals is underway.
The fire was discovered March 12 when smoke was detected coming from the Orndoff shaft. All underground employees were safely evacuated. Mine rescue teams initially entered the mine but withdrew after encountering heat and heavy smoke. Efforts to extinguish the fire were then conducted from the surface.
Numerous boreholes were drilled from the surface to pump water and inject nitrogen underground into the affected area and to monitor the mine atmosphere.
Mine rescue teams were able to re-enter the mine March 27 after it was determined the fire had been extinguished. The entire mine was inspected and no other significant issues were discovered that would relate to the mine’s safe operations.
The mine produces about 400,000 tons of coal a month and employs about 600 workers, who are represented by the United Mine Workers of America. Officials from the Mine, Safety and Health Administration, West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training and UMWA also have participated in the efforts.