Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA
Dotiki Mine Recovery Press Conference Remarks
Thank you Joe [Joe Craft, CEO Alliance Coal] for the kind introduction.
Let me acknowledge the other speaker, Frank Reed from the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals, and other members of the mining community who have also joined us this afternoon and assisted in the recovery
What we together accomplished here at the Dotiki mine at first glance seems uneventful. There were no fatalities, injuries, or layoffs from the underground fire. Yet, these very facts are what make this recovery so newsworthy and important. "
- It was a "text book" operation which followed all the rules. Not one miner or mine rescuer was injured. There was clear communication and cooperation among all the parties involved - from mine operators to rescue teams to government agencies.
- The fire was quickly isolated. Mine recovery efforts that should have taken three-to-four months to possibly a year were completed safety in only three-to-four weeks.
- Innovative recovery techniques and technology played an essential role in the recovery efforts. Creative thinking, expert advice, and new technology all came together to produce a unique solution to contain the fire.
- Coal production was resumed in record time -- saving jobs. The mine returned to full production in less than a month - saving paychecks, 360 miner's jobs, and hundreds of thousands of tons of coal necessary to power the economy. In fact, a majority of miners were transferred to affiliate operations thus keeping the paychecks flowing and the local economy running.
- There was unprecedented cooperation between all the participants - from Alliance Coal, MSHA, the Kentucky Department of Mines and others. It was a joint effort, pooling together years of mining expertise and knowledge. And MSHA was proud to be a player on the team.
This is one Labor Secretary, Agency and Administration that is determined to do all it can to help protect miner's health and safety. In fact, the state of Kentucky was recently the recipient of the largest state grant MSHA gives for safety and health training and development - over $600,000.
Throughout the nation, we have made significant progress in reducing fatality and injury rates. For the third straight year, the U.S. mining industry set its best safety record since statistics were first complied in 1910. Since the year 2000, fatal injuries have decreased 34 percent.
This progress is directly the result of the diligence of miners, mine operators, and MSHA and state officials to insure a safe and healthy workplace - just like we witnessed here at the Dotiki mine.
The mine recovery is also a great example of how the Department's emphasis on compliance assistance -- working together with mine operators to comply with federal regulations -- is creating tangible and positive results.
As Dotiki mine recovery demonstrates, by joining together we can make a real difference in the safety, security and health of all miners.
There is much to celebrate here today, and much more to do throughout the nation.