Black Beauty mine recognized as safest in nation
Department of Labor honors Wabash Valley coal mine
By Arthur E. FoulkesThe Tribune-StarSepetmber 25, 2007
TERRE HAUTE — A coal mine in Vigo and Sullivan counties near Pimento has been named the safest large surface coal mine in the nation by the United States Department of Labor.
The Farmersburg Mine, operated by Black Beauty Coal Co. of Evansville, was one of 19 mining operations recognized with 2006 Sentinels of Safety Awards.
The awards, which were established in 1925, recognize mining operations with the least accidents.
According to a media statement issued by Peabody Energy, which owns Black Beauty, the 260 employees of the Farmersburg Mine worked all of 2006 without a reportable accident.
The employees also operated more than 1 million hours and 19 months without a lost-time incident.
A lost-time incident is any mining accident that requires a miner to miss work, said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, a lobby group for the mining industry that sponsors the Sentinels of Safety Award along with the Department of Labor.
“I’m proud of our employees for setting a standard of safety that is consistently recognized throughout the nation,” said Gregory H. Boyce, president and CEO of Peabody Energy, in a media statement issued last week. Peabody mines have won Sentinels of Safety Awards in three of the past four years, the statement read.
Recent mining accidents, including a mine collapse in Utah earlier this year in which nine people were killed and an accident in West Virginia last year in which 12 people died, have tarnished a “record of progress” in mine safety over the past several years, Popovich said. More than 80 percent of all mines, mineral and coal, in 2006 had no lost-time accidents, he said.
Improved mining safety has not gotten the attention it deserves, said Matthew Faraci, a public affairs official with the Department of Labor. Faraci notes that mining injuries are down by 60 percent since 1996.
The United Mine Workers of America, in a report issued earlier this year, blamed the West Virginia accident on a series of decisions made by the mining company and federal regulators within the Department of Labor.
According to government figures, mining fatalities have fallen steadily from 242 in 1978 to 72 in 2006.
The Farmersburg Mine is not the only large surface mine in Indiana owned by Black Beauty to do well in the 2006 Sentinels of Safety awards competition. The Somerville Central Mine in Gibson County was the second-safest large surface mine in 2006 and the Francisco Mine, also in Gibson County, was ranked fourth.