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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Murray Energy Corp. chief Bob Murray has laid off another 52 Utah miners for at least a month until he can reopen a coal mine that was closed because of safety concerns.
The company shut down the Tower mine to test its ability to withstand the kind of seismic shocks that killed six miners and three rescuers at its Crandall Canyon mine in August. Both mines are in the coal belt of central Utah.
"The layoffs were necessary in order for the company to conserve cash until the Tower mine is once again in operation," Robert Edward Murray, a Murray Energy vice president, said in a statement provided Saturday to The Associated Press. "UtahAmerican fully intends to restart the Tower mine in the near future, perhaps in early January 2008, at which time the company will call its laid off miners back to work."
UtahAmerican Energy Inc. is a subsidy of Pepper Pike, Ohio-based Murray Energy that operates several mines near Price, Utah. At least one of them, Carbon County's West Ridge Mine, remains in operation, but that layoffs hit that and other mines.
Murray Energy previously laid off 172 Utah miners in the wake of the Crandall Canyon disaster. The company's latest statement made no mention of their status, and officials didn't return phone and e-mail messages on Saturday.
The laid-off miners are eligible for up to $400 a week in jobless pay, said Susan Etzel, a manager for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.
"A lot of them have experience with this, so they may just file over the telephone or on the Internet," she said.
Murray Energy also operates coal mines in Illinois and Ohio.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)