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A federal mine regulatory agency allowed some underground coal mining to resume Thursday at the Bull Mountain mine near Roundup after halting mining earlier this week because of roof falls.

Amy Louviere, a public affairs spokeswoman for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, said in an email Thursday that supplemental roof support work was completed in an area where mining has been occurring.

The mine was going to run the longwall machine, which cuts and removes the coal, on the day shift, and put the entire workforce on support work for the remaining operational hours, she said. MSHA’s closure order does not allow people to be in by the face during mining.

Also, much progress has been made on re-support work in another area of the mine, she said.

And work is ongoing to develop changes to a roof control plan, she said.

The MSHA issued a closure order Monday after the mine had three roof falls in the previous week. No one was injured in any of the falls, but one miner was injured on July 19 when he was struck in the head by a post while shoring up the roof.

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MSHA inspectors and engineers are on site and have been conducing a regular inspection since July 5.

John DeMichiei, president and CEO of Signal Peak Energy, which owns the mine, said earlier that he thinks two of the roof falls happened because mining was occurring in an area where the ground cover is 800 feet thick, or about double normal ground cover. The weight of the cover may caused the roof falls, he said.

The third roof fall, which happened almost four miles away from the other two, occurred during excavation work in a tunnel used for the ventilation system. Workers encountered a lot of water and came near a coal seam, which is weaker than rock, he said.

Contact Clair Johnson at cjohnson@billingsgazette.com or 657-1282.

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