Coordinates: 39°27′36″N 111°10′04″W / 39.460000°N
111.167639°W / 39.460000; -111.167639 The Crandall Canyon Mine,
formerly Genwal Mine, was an underground bituminous coal mine in
northwestern Emery County, Utah.
The mine made headline news when six miners were trapped by a collapse
in August 2007. Ten days later, three rescue workers were killed by a
subsequent collapse. The six miners were later declared dead and their
bodies were never recovered.
1 Location and geography
2 Ownership and operation
3.1 Safety concerns
4 Mining accidents
4.1 Initial collapse
4.1.1 Disaster response
4.2 Second collapse and suspension of underground rescue efforts
4.3 U.S. Government fine
4.4 Government conclusions
6 See also
8 External links
Location and geography
Crandall Canyon Mine is located at 39°27′36″N
111°10′03.5″W / 39.46000°N 111.167639°W / 39.46000;
-111.167639 (39.460000°, -111.167639°) with its entrance at an
elevation of 7,835 feet (2,388m).
The mine is located in Emery County, Utah, in the Wasatch plateau coal
field. The mine is located about 140 miles (225 km) south of
Salt Lake City, 34 miles (55 km) southeast of Fairview, and about
15 miles (24 km) west north-west of Huntington. The mine is
located in Crandall Canyon about 1.25 miles (2 km) west of its
junction with the main highway road, State Route 31, which runs
through Huntington Canyon.
Manti-La Sal National Forest
Manti-La Sal National Forest surrounds the mine. The mine conducts
surface operations on 10 acres (40,000 m²) of disturbed land within
the forest. The permit area for the mine covers an area of more
than 5,000 acres (20 km2) utilizing fee land, federal, and state
The topography in the vicinity of the mine is generally mountainous
with peaks reaching above 10,000 feet (3050m) within a 3-mile
(5 km) radius from the mine's entrance. An unnamed peak 3-mile
(4.8 km) west at the head of both Crandall Canyon and Blind
Canyon is at elevation 10,743 feet (3274m). Mill Fork Peak, located
about 1.2 miles (2 km) south of the mine's entrance, is at
elevation 9885 feet (3012m). A ridge line 0.5 miles (0.8 km)
north of the mine entrance reaches elevations above 9200 feet (2800m).
That is an offset of about 1,400 vertical feet (427m) above the mine's
entrance in the canyon below.
Ownership and operation
The mine is co-owned by UtahAmerican Energy, Inc. (formerly Andalex
Resources), a company with approximately US$65.1 million in annual
sales, headquartered in Sandy, Utah. UtahAmerican is a subsidiary of
Cleveland, Ohio based Murray Energy Corporation, owned by Robert E.
"Bob" Murray. The Crandall Canyon mine is operated by Genwal
Resources Inc., an operating division of UtahAmerican. The other
co-owner is the Intermountain Power Agency (IPA) of South Jordan,
Utah. On July 24, 2008 the U.S. government announced its highest
penalty for coal mine safety violations against Genwal Resources,
$1.64 million, for the 2007 collapse.
Mining was conducted at the site from November 1939 to September 1955
using a room and pillar method. The Genwal
Coal Company resumed
mining there in 1983. At that time the mine produced between
100,000 and 230,000 tons (91,000–209,000 t) of coal each year.
NEICO purchased the mine in 1989 and the next year IPA purchased 50%
interest. By 1991, a continuous haulage system was used helping
production surge to 1 to 1.5 million tons (900,000–1,400,000 t) each
Genwal Resources, Inc. acquired the mine in March 1995 and a longwall
was installed the same year into the mine. The installation of the
longwall nearly doubled the capacity of the mine. A new longwall
was purchased two years later which increased the capacity further to
3.5 million tons (3,175,000 t) per year. To handle the increased
capacity, a new loadout facility was built at the mine. Additional
federal leases were expected to extend the life of the mine and new
portals on its south side were slated to be installed to expand access
options. Mine owners had informed the state of Utah they planned to
close the mine in 2008.
In 2006, the mine was cited for several safety violations, including
lacking the required number of escape routes. Murray said that the
safety violations were trivial and included violations such as not
having enough toilet paper in the restroom. In addition, a
practice referred to as retreat mining was being conducted in some
portions of the mine in which the coal had been removed by room and
pillar method. The extraction of material literally creates a 'room'
while the ceiling is supported by the 'pillars' of coal that remain.
Retreat mining refers to the common practice of removing the pillars
while retreating back towards the mine entrance.
On March 10, 2007 the north barrier pillar suffered from a rock burst,
in which pressure causes material from the walls and ceiling to
explode inward into the excavated spaces. No miners were injured and
all equipment was recovered from the affected area, but the partial
collapse closed off that area and forced the mine to instead extract
coal that had a higher ash content. The company depended on the
low-ash coal to meet its contractual obligations, however, so on March
21 a meeting was held in which it was decided to return to the south
barrier pillar. This pillar was adjacent to the north barrier pillar.
The March 10 event was never officially reported to MSHA, as required
by law. Robert Murray claimed to be unaware of the incident but
minutes of the March 21 meeting, released in January 2008, revealed
that he had in fact known about it.
A mining accident took place on Monday, August 6, 2007, at 2:48 A.M.
MDT. The mine collapsed, trapping six workers: Kerry Allred (58), Luis
Hernandez (23), Brandon Phillips (24), Carlos Payan (22), Manuel
Sanchez (41), and Don Erickson (50). The workers were believed to be
approximately 3.4 miles (5.5 km) from the mine entrance and 1500
feet (457 m) underground.
Seismic waves from the "coal mine bump"
(collapse) were reported as magnitude 3.9 to 4.0 by seismograph
stations in Utah and Nevada. Initial reports questioned whether the
collapse was triggered by an earthquake, but subsequent research
proved the seismic readings were due to the collapse. Additional
seismic activities were recorded in the days following the
Rescue teams were dispatched immediately to assess the damage to the
mine and begin clearing rubble to reach the cavity. The process of
clearing the rubble and reinforcing the passageways to the cavity was
estimated to last between two and six weeks, but additional seismic
activity and safety concerns introduced further delays.
At 9:47 PM MDT Thursday August 9, 2007, a drill bit boring a
2.5 inch (6.3 cm) hole over 1,800 feet (549 m) into the
presumed location of the trapped miners reached its targeted
destination. The hole was fitted with a steel pipe to allow air
samples to be recovered and a microphone to be lowered, which reached
the cavity location underground early Friday morning on August 10. The
microphone recorded no sounds of human activity, but the crude air
sample analysis from underground initially determined that the
atmosphere was hospitable for life, with a sampling consisting of
20.5% oxygen, some carbon monoxide, and no traces of methane. The
analysis did not, however, reveal the presence of carbon dioxide,
which would be expected if the miners were still alive and breathing.
Subsequent air samples, though, showed oxygen levels near 7%, at near
fatal levels for human life. Initially, the subsequent sampling
was thought to be consistent with a neighboring sealed-off mine
cavity, and that the drill bit had simply drifted off course, but it
was later confirmed that it actually did reach its targeted
destination. Seemingly, the initial findings of 20.5% oxygen levels
were from the bore hole itself, instead of the actual mine cavity.
A concurrent rescue effort involved the creation of a nine-inch
(22 cm) hole. The target was another possible location of the
miners at the time of the collapse. This shaft would have allowed the
delivery of food, water, and a powerful teleoperated robotic camera to
scope the site. It reached the mine shaft early Saturday, August
11. The aforementioned robotic camera was lowered into the
collapsed coal mine from the nine-inch (229 mm) wide shaft, and
revealed typical mining equipment but not the six missing miners,
according to a federal official speaking on Sunday, August 12, 2007.
Poor lighting allowed the camera only to see about 15 feet (4.6 m)
into a void at the bottom of the drill hole, far less than the 100
feet (30.5 m) it is normally capable of seeing, said Richard Stickler,
Chief of the
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
A third bore hole was started on the evening of Sunday, August 12. The
target was a ventilation area near the back of the mine. Miners are
trained to go to these areas in the event that other escape routes are
inaccessible. The bore hole was completed mid-day on Wednesday, August
15. Initial equipment was unable to fit through a bend in the bore
Shortly before 7:00 pm MDT on August 15, 2007, vibrations were
reported to have been detected within the mine. These vibrations,
heard by geophones lowered into the borehole, had a duration of around
five minutes, but could easily have been an animal or even a rock
crumbling, said Stickler. This sound activity caused a major
rethinking in the proposed location of the fourth hole that was under
consideration. The fourth hole was redirected to target the noises
detected in the mine about 3/4 of the distance to the third hole,
roughly 800 feet (250 m) beyond the initial holes. The first two
bore holes targeted the approximate location of the miners at the time
of the collapse. The third bore hole targeted a ventilation area about
1200 ft (365 m) beyond the first two holes.
On mid-day August 16, 2007, eleven days after the collapse,
underground rescue teams were less than halfway through the rubble to
the suspected location of the miners. Continued bursting of tunnel
walls damaged digging equipment and required additional structural
reinforcement for the safety of the crew. In the 24 hours between the
August 15th and 16th reports, digging teams were only able to advance
about 25 feet (7.5 m). They had advanced 826 feet (251.7 m) into the
rubble and estimated 1200 feet (365 m) still remained.
Second collapse and suspension of underground rescue efforts
Later on August 16, 2007 at about 6:30pm MDT, the mine collapsed again
when one of the walls of the tunnel exploded outwards, killing three
rescue workers and injuring six others. All rescue workers
were pulled from the mine, and it was not known whether rescue efforts
underground for the trapped miners would continue. The three
rescuers killed were Dale "Bird" Black (49), Brandon Kimber (29), and
Gary Jensen (53). Jensen was an inspector for MSHA.
A week later, Blake Hannah, a retired inspector who used to oversee
the mine said that several warning signs — including reports from
miners of weakening support structures — had been ignored. "In my
opinion," he said, "there were bad mining practices."
Bob Murray, owner of the mine, stated that he filed paperwork with
federal regulators to permanently close and seal the Crandall Canyon
mine. "Had I known that this evil mountain, this alive mountain,
would do what it did, I would never have sent the miners in here. I'll
never go near that mountain again," he said. Murray initially
claimed the accident was due to an earthquake, stating he and his
company held no responsibility.
On August 23, 2007, rescue workers bored a sixth hole into the area
where the miners were last known to be working. No signs of life
were detected from the sixth borehole. "There was zero void. [And
they] are going through a living hell, and it's just heartbreaking"
quoted Colin King of Rob Moore, vice president of Murray Energy, as he
informed the families Saturday. Although the sixth hole had been
called the final hole, a seventh hole was drilled on August 30,
2007. The mine cavity was filled with mud and debris, rising about
5 ft (1.5 m) per hour (1.5 m/h).
U.S. Government fine
On July 24, 2008 MSHA announced its highest penalty for coal mine
safety violations, $1.85 million, for the collapse. The government
fined Genwal Resources, $1.34 million "for violations that directly
contributed to the deaths of six miners last year," plus nearly
$300,000 for other violations. Richard E. Stickler, the government's
top mine safety official said "It was not — and I repeat, it was not
— a natural occurring earthquake." The government also levied a
$220,000 fine against a mining consultant, Agapito Associates, "for
faulty analysis of the mine's design."
On Thursday, August 16, 2007:
At 8:55pm MDT:
CNN reported that at least six ambulances were
dispatched to the mine following a "significant seismic event" or
"bump". A seismic event was registered at 6:38 in that area. in
which several rescuers were injured, according to a representative
from the Utah Department of Natural Resources. Two helicopters
were also dispatched from
University of Utah
University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake
City. Deseret Morning News further reported that the same official,
Tammy Kikuchi, stated that five people were injured, two
At 9:22pm MDT: AP (via MSNBC) and KSL Newsradio were reporting nine
injured and with two of those critical.
At 9:57pm MDT:
KSTU confirmed reports of one fatality among the
rescuers following a "bump" at about 6:30pm (
KSTU also reported a 1.6
magnitude seismic shock occurring) (recorded by the University of Utah
also at around 6:30pm).
At 10:57pm MDT:
CNN & AP reported that a second rescue worker had
At 11:40pm MDT:
CNN reported that a third rescue worker had died.
On Friday, August 17, 2007:
At 1:50am MDT:
CNN reported that one injured rescue worker had been
released from the hospital.
At 4:56am MDT:
CNN confirmed the three previously
At 11:00am MDT: There was another press conference discussing the
On August 17, 2007, Rich Kuczewski of the United States Department of
Labor announced that there would be an indefinite suspension of the
underground rescue effort, stemming from the three fatalities and nine
injuries from the most recent collapse of the mine.
On August 18, 2007, the fourth bore hole was completed. Cameras
showed the area was completely collapsed, and air samples taken would
not support human life. Rob Moore told reporters, "It is
disappointing. And it's likely that these miners may not be found." A
fifth bore hole was started on August 20. Both the monitoring
equipment and continued seismic activity indicated that the mine was
slowly collapsing and remained unsafe for underground rescue
On August 22, 2007, a fifth bore hole reached the mine tunnel. Video
that came back from a camera lowered into the bore hole showed only
about 6 inches of open space between the ceiling and rubble
filling the 8-foot (2.4 m)-high tunnel.
On August 25, 2007, a sixth bore hole reached the mine tunnel.
Officials announced that the section of the mine was too small for the
miners to have survived. A robotic camera—which was ordered weeks
before and was finally assembled over the previous week—was planned
to descend the hole on August 27. A seventh bore hole was also
On August 26, 2007, owner Bob Murray announced the closure of the
Tower mine, which contains the area of the collapse. Murray announced
that he would relocate workers to Illinois or Ohio if they choose,
saying, "If they choose this, there will be no one laid off." Some
workers complained that he was not offering enough benefits for
relocated workers, and that a cost of living adjustment to local pay
scales reduced their salary too much.
On August 28, 2007, the robotic camera was unable to reach the mine
through the sixth bore hole. The continuing seismic activity caused
the bore hole to shift. The machine was able to descend within about
10 feet (3 m) of the mine cavity.
On August 30, 2007, the seventh bore hole was completed. The mine
cavity was filled with mud and debris, rising about 5 ft
(1.5 m) per hour (1.5 m/h). Mine owners announced that there
were no plans to drill additional holes, which cost about $600,000
each. They also announced plans to send the robotic camera down
the fourth bore hole.
On August 31, 2007, the robotic camera was sent down the fourth bore
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesman Rich
Kulczewski said officials planned to drop the robot down the fourth
hole despite his guess of a 90 percent chance the high-tech camera
could be lost.
On September 1, 2007, Federal officials called off the search after
four weeks of failed search efforts. The option of drilling an eighth
hole was not ruled out entirely but would only be considered if new
information arose to justify its drilling.
On November 21, 2007, Federal regulators revealed that Murray Energy
sealed three main passageways with concrete blocks in October, leaving
the bodies inside entombed. The blocks may be removed at a later date
in the unlikely event there are any subsequent recovery efforts.
On June 1, 2008, a 53-page report issued by University of Utah
seismologists was released to the public. It recalculated the
epicenter of the magnitude-3.9 mine collapse began near where miners
were excavating coal and quickly grew to a 50-acre (200,000 m2)
cave-in. They also estimated the size of the collapse to be about four
times larger than was thought shortly after the time of the Aug. 6,
On July 24, 2008 the U.S. government announced its highest penalty for
coal mine safety violations, $1.85 million, for the collapse.
MSHA said the mine was "destined to fail" because the mining company
made critical miscalculations and didn't report early warning signs.
MSHA itself was faulted by the Department of Labor, of which MSHA is
an agency, for lax oversight before the collapse and mismanaging the
failed rescue attempt.
According to 1,400 pages of government and congressional reports, the
mine was doomed, starting months before the disaster. MSHA cited
Murray Energy affiliate Genwal Resources Inc. for negligence.
Engineers Agapito Associates Inc. of Grand Junction, Colo., was cited
for "reckless disregard." The mine failed to notify MSHA of the early
danger signs, instead alerting the more industry-friendly Bureau of
Land Management, when pillars started unexpectedly collapsing in March
2007. MSHA said recklessness by Agapito Associates "directly
contributed to the death of nine people."
Robert Murray was also heavily criticized for his actions during the
rescue attempt. The MSHA cited his volatile behavior, especially at
daily briefings for family members. MSHA reported that he "frequently
became very irate and would start yelling," even making young children
cry. He told family members that "the media is telling you lies" and
"the union is your enemy."
The Department of Labor criticized MSHA chief
Richard Stickler for his
handling of the rescue effort. His "obsession" for keeping a
continuous log of the progress made or lost by tunneling rescuers was
said to demand that the crews had to halt the rescue digging to report
to him, in order to document hourly measurements.
Genwal Resources was reported to use overly aggressive mining, and
failed to recalibrate their modeling of Crandall's supposed stability
to match the reduction of crucial barrier pillars. In one case it
miscalculated depth covers that are fundamental to safety equations at
underground mines. In another, a panel of experts determined, the firm
overstated the strength of support pillars by a factor of two.
A trail near the entrance of the mine now leads to a paved area which
serves as an on-site memorial for the nine men killed in the 2007
Granite headstones for the six miners killed were created by
American Monument to serve as markers.
Granite memorial benches
were also created for the three rescuers killed and serve as
Another memorial to the August 2007 collapses can be found in
Huntington, Utah. It is a bronze statue created by Karen Jobe
Templeton called "Heroes Among Us." It was unveiled on September 18,
2008 and features deep relief portraits of each of the nine men
killed, and rises six feet off the ground, "so that the viewer looks
each miner in the eye."
List of mining disasters
^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census
Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l State of Utah (2007, July 31). Crandall
Canyon Mine. Retrieved August 10, 2007, from
^ UtahAmerican @ Manta.com
^ UtahAmerican @ Hoovers
^ a b c "Feds blame mine operator for fatal collapse". CNN. July 24,
^ CARLISLE, NATE (August 11, 2007). "
Crandall Canyon Mine Could Be
Played Out". The Salt Lake Tribune. Media News Group. Retrieved
^ FOY, PAUL; Burke, Garance; Vergakis, Brock; Borenstein, Seth (August
7, 2007). "Utah Mine Rescue Effort Grinds Ahead". Forbes. Associated
Press. Retrieved 2007-08-07. [dead link]
^ "Murray's Illinois mine has 2,787 violations since 2005". The Salt
Lake Tribune Retrieved on August 10, 2007.
^ GEHRKE, ROBERT (August 14, 2007). "Critics blast feds' approval of
controversial 'retreat' mining at Crandall Canyon". The Salt Lake
Tribune. Media News Group. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
^ Gehrke, Robert (2008-01-17). "Crandall Canyon bombshell: Months
before deadly cave-ins, owners knew of structural woes". Salt Lake
Tribune. Retrieved 2008-01-18.
^ "Seismic Moment Tensor Report for the 06 Aug 2007, M3.9 Seismic
event in central Utah" @ U.C. Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
^ "6 miners trapped in Utah coal mine collapse" @ CNN.com Archived
March 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Six miners trapped after Utah coal mine collapses" @ Yahoo!
News[permanent dead link]
^ "Utah mine owner: Efforts to reach the miners will take at least
three days" @ from AP at Yahoo! News Archived August 12, 2007, at
^ Mine Collapse Not Caused By Earthquake @ KUTV.com Archived
2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Seismic Activities 'Totally Shut Down' Rescue Efforts" @ KSL.com
^ ABC News: "Drill Reaches Miners' Presumed Location"
^ FoxNews.com Drill Reaches Level of Trapped Utah Miners; No Sound
^ "Drill hole may have missed miners, federal officials say" —
^ "Second Drill Bit Heads Toward Trapped Miners" — ABC News
^ Robot-Assisted Rescuers Seek Answers in Wake of Utah Mine Collapse"
^ "Second drill reaches collapsed Utah mine shaft" — ABC News
^ "Third Drill Hole Could Be Completed Tonight" — KSL.com
^ "Rescuers say noises heard in mine, drilling increases" — CNN.com
^ "Mysterious Noises Offer Hope for Miners" — ABC News
^ News report image of approximate bore hole targets — KSL News
Archived 2007-08-19 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Miners to Begin Drilling Fourth Hole" — KSL News
^ a b Foy, Paul. "3 Rescue Workers Killed at Utah Mine." Associated
Press. 08.17.07.[dead link]
^ Frosch, Dan. and Lee Jennifer 8. "Rescue Halted at Mine After 3
Deaths and 6 Injuries" The New York Times. August 17, 2007.
Crandall Canyon Mine Memorial". Karen Job Templeton. Retrieved on
August 5, 2012.
^ Monforton, Celeste. "Still no day in court for worker safety
violations at Crandall Canyon coal mine". Retrieved on August 5, 2012.
^ Stagg, Jennifer (2007). "Hope turns to anger in Utah mining town".
BBC News. Retrieved on August 23, 2007.
^ Fact sheet on Crandall Canyon Mine, mining-technology.com. Retrieved
on April 8, 2010.
^ "AP Interview: Utah mine boss defends search for miners; 5th bore
hole breaks through into mine" Archived 2013-02-09 at
WSVN. Retrieved on April 8, 2010.
^ "Senate panel issues subpoena for Utah mine owner - CNN.com".
www.cnn.com. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
^ "Crews prepare for final rescue effort at Utah mine" @ CNN.
Retrieved on August 23, 2007.
^ " New bore hole drilled at Utah mine finds no sign of life" @ CNN.
Retrieved on August 25, 2007.
^ a b 7th Hole Shows Mine Shaft Filled with Debris — KSL News
University of Utah
University of Utah Seismograph" — UofU
^ "Ambulances rush to Utah mine after another possible collapse" —
^ "Ambulances and helicopters rush to Crandall mine" — Deseret
^ "Options dwindle in Utah mine rescue effort" — Associated Press
^ New Hole Shows No Sign of Trapped Miners - KSL News
^ V.P. of Mine Company: Missing Miners May Not be Found — KSL News
^ Fifth Hole to be Drilled, Officials Dash Hopes of Finding Miners —
Camera Will Probe Mine; 7th Hole Planned — KSL News
^ Murray Shuts Down Carbon County Mine — KSL News
^ Crews With Robotic
Camera Await 7th Hole at Mine — KSL News
^ Power Plant Scrambling for
Coal — KSL News
^ Crews Send Robotic
Camera Down 4th Hole at Mine — KSL News
^ "Search Ends For Buried Utah Miners" -
^ "Collapsed Utah mine where 6 workers' bodies remain has been sealed"
Associated Press via International Herald Tribune
^ Newswise: Fatal Mine Collapse Covered 50 Acres, Began Near Miners
^ a b c d e Year after mine collapse, many failures clear, Associated
Press, Aug. 6, 2008, Retrieved 2008-08-06
^ "Crandall Canyon Mine". American Monument. Retrieved on August 5,
Crandall Canyon Mine Memorial". Karen Jobe Templeton. Retrieved on
August 5, 2012.
Wikinews has related news: Six miners trapped in Utah mine after
Wikinews has related news: Three killed in Utah coal mine rescue
Crandall Canyon Mine - MSHA.gov MiniSite. Contains vector-image maps
of the affected area of the mine and drill hole map, and also the
emergency response plan.
Utah Geological Survey 2005
Coal Report (Crandall Mine described on pp
Seismological Report on the 6 Aug 2007
Crandall Canyon Mine Collapse
Find A Grave: Crandall Canyon Mine.
Song written for the community of the