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CO Coal Mine Closes, 115 Laid Off

Tue, 12/03/2013 - 11:47am
Associated Press

SOMERSET, Colo. (AP) — A Somerset coal mine where 142 workers were laid off in October will close permanently, putting another 115 out of work.

Oxbow Mining announced Monday it will idle its Elk Creek Mine in Somerset. That follows the loss of 142 jobs in October at the Paonia-area mine. The mine has struggled since a 2012 fire crippled production.

A year ago, the mine sustained a collapse that ignited a fire that continues to burn despite efforts to seal off the oxygen supply. Dangerous air levels have prevented the retrieval of expensive machinery needed to restore production.

The mine produced more than 6 million tons of low-sulfur coal and employed 350 people at its peak in 2008, The Denver Post reported (http://goo.gl/1kVCcD).

The reduction was reported to the state via a WARN Act notice. Mining workers can earn two to three times the average wage in that part of the state, which is about $33,000 a year, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

"I am deeply concerned about the effect the Elk Creek Mine closure will have on the families supported by this mine as well as the North Fork Valley community as a whole," said state Rep. Don Coram, R- Montrose, in a statement.

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