stacks of cash

Biggest Settlement of Delinquent Fines Nets MSHA $276,231

MSHA wrapped up 2008 with two major rules and its biggest settlement, $276,231.34 to be paid by Liggett Mining Company, LLC, since the agency began warning mine operators their mines could be closed if they became delinquent on their civil penalties. The company agreed to pay the past-due penalties for violations found at its five underground coal mines in eastern Kentucky, MSHA said.

"Payment of penalties is an important incentive to improving safety in mines, and we will use every available tool we have to ensure that operators settle their debts," said Richard Stickler, the agency's chief.

According to MSHA, "Liggett Mining had failed to pay fines on at least 300 citations dating back to March 2007 at its five mining operations, one of which has since closed and been abandoned." The settlement calls for the company to pay all of the delinquent penalties in six monthly installment amounts, with the first already paid -- $68,606.28 -- and five monthly payments totaling $207,625.06 to come.

The major rules, published Dec. 31, spell out what underground coal mine operators must do to use belt air ventilation of working mining areas and allow two types of underground coal mine refuges.

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