Landslide may affect long-term operations

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A "massive landslide" at Trapper Mine on Sunday probably will not affect operations this year, but it may down the road, said mine President and General Manager Ray DuBois.

"This has not affected our coal delivery schedule for this year," DuBois said. "But we're going to evaluate how this will affect our coal production for 2007. It will affect longtime mining here."

The landslide encompasses nearly 200 acres of mining land in one of four active mining areas at the site, located 6 1/2 miles southwest of Craig.

DuBois said employees have ceased mining in the area; the other three mining areas are still in operation.

No one was injured in the landslide, and all major machinery was moved in time to avoid damage.

"The employees did a really good job of getting the equipment out of harm's way," DuBois said.

He said employees were on alert this weekend because the area has been shifting recently.

"It's an area we've been watching closely ever since we started mining in this area because it's showed signs of instability," DuBois said. "There's a lot of geological instability in the area, and mining triggered the movement."

DuBois said the slide will accelerate the mine's operations, and it will begin mining the next area in the company's plan for the site.

"Instead of continuing to mine in this area ... we'll move out of that area and into another one," he said.

In the meantime, he said no employees will be laid off, as the slide has created more than enough work for them.

"It's an unwelcome challenge, but a challenge that we'll face," DuBois said. "Often with these challenges, the work force turns up stronger, and we're ready to get through this."

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