Regulators shut down Knott mine

Federal regulators have issued an order barring production at a Knott County coal mine because the operators have failed to pay more than $300,000 in safety fines, according to a news release.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration announced Monday that it has issued a withdrawal order to Double A Mining Inc. That means the operator can't mine coal until it pays its delinquent fines.

It was the first time the federal mine-safety agency has shut down a mine over unpaid health and safety fines, MSHA said in a news release.

The company has failed to pay a total of $313,820 in fines for more than 360 safety violations at its underground No. 4 Mine, MSHA said.

The operator of the mine hasn't made a penalty payment since August 2004, the agency said.

Failure to pay fines reduces a coal operator's incentive to run a mine safely, MSHA said in the withdrawal order to Double A.

No one from the company was immediately available for comment.

The mine had been in active production before the order, employing an average of 16 miners during the last quarter of 2008, said MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere.