Elk Creek Mine abandons longwall mining machine due to spontaneous combustion

GUNNISON COUNTY, Colo. - Oxbow Mining is laying off about half of its Elk Creek Mine workforce after deciding it will have to abandon a longwall mining machine worth millions of dollars.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the longwall is in an area with issues involving spontaneous combustion. The newspaper said the company has been months trying to recover the equipment.

The Elk Creek Mine is in Somerset, in Gunnison County.

The layoffs involved about 150 workers.

“We have made a decision that it’s not safe to recover the longwall so it’s going to be sealed in place,” said Mike Ludlow, executive vice president at the mine.

Developed in 2003, the Elk Creek Mine, produces approximately 6 million tons of high-quality steam coal each year, according to Union Pacific Railroad.