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DOL News Release No. 04-2174-PHIL
U.S. Department of Labor
Contact: Kate Dugan
Phone: (215) 861-5101

Released Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Mine Safety and Health Contract Awarded to West Virginia Firm
Bluefield-Based Marshall Miller Receives $283,777 to Conduct In-Seam Seismic Tests

BECKLEY, W.Va.-The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has awarded a $283,777 contract to Marshall Miller & Associates Inc., Energy & Mineral Resources Group of Bluefield, W.Va., to demonstrate the use of in-seam seismic technology for locating both air- and water-filled mine voids from an exposed coal seam outcrop.

"The incident at Quecreek taught us that the danger of mining coal in the vicinity of poorly mapped, abandoned and inaccessible coal mines is not uncommon," said Assistant Secretary of Labor Dave D. Lauriski during a ceremony at the National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beckley. "Marshall Miller & Associates has several tools and geophysical techniques at its disposal, which have the potential to increase the success and reliability of accurately detecting mine voids."

The geophysical technology contract was awarded as part of a $10 million appropriation to detect mine voids and digitize mine maps in the wake of the 2002 inundation at the Quecreek mine in Somerset, Pa. MSHA received 58 different proposals from eight universities, two state geological survey organizations and 13 private companies. Eight teams of engineers, scientists and university professors formally evaluated each proposal. Ultimately, MSHA selected eight organizations for contract awards to demonstrate several types of technologies for detecting underground mine voids.

Marshall Miller, along with Virginia Tech and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, will demonstrate an in-seam method for void detection at the Clintwood Elkhorn Mining Co.'s Sassy No. 1 Mine near Hurley, Va.

The experiment will not be performed underground, but rather on the surface at the outcrop because of easy access to the coal seam. Sassy No. 1 Mine was idled in 2002.