The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in the US has awarded a $9.35m contract to Hazleton Shaft Company to extinguish the Jeansville mine fire in Banks Township, Carbon County, which has been burning for three years.

Pennsylvania Senator John Yudichak said: "The awarding of the contract to extinguish the Jeansville mine fire follows an extensive assessment by DEP and the formulation of a comprehensive plan to attack the fire.

"We will continue to work closely with DEP and Banks Township officials to monitor the progress of the work and keep the residents living near the fire informed."

Funds for the project have been provided by the US Federal Abandoned Mine Land Grant Program and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

"The work is expected to take two years to complete."

Hazleton Shaft is permitted to mine on land adjacent to the entire site, and has been working to put-out the blaze on 28 acres of surface and underground mine.

Hazleton Shaft will use 50 new and existing monitoring boreholes to continue to gauge the scope and intensity of the fire and will also extinguish any underground burning material discovered during the project.

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Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation in Wilkes-Barre environmental programme manager Mike Korb said: "We are happy to be working with Hazleton Shaft Corporation on this phase of the mine fire project.

"The company, lowest of eight bidders, is familiar with the mine fire, and they and DEP’s Pottsville District Mine Office have implemented a work plan for the active mine area that will be worked in coordination with this abandoned mine project."

During the project work, residents may experience an odour of sulpher, which will be minimised by DEP by conducting air quality monitoring on an as-needed basis.

As part of the project, around 2.6 million cubic yards of material will be removed to isolate the fire on the south side, and around 200 acres will be cleared and grubbed.

The work is expected to take two years to complete.

Once complete, any disturbed areas will be seeded, cleaned up and the equipment taken away from the site.