The US mining industry could see more stringent safety inspections in coming months after the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion which killed 29 people in West Virginia this year.
Arch Coal chairman Steven Leer said more rigorous safety inspections could impact productivity, reducing production by an estimated 5%.
There has already been a 5% industry-wide decline in coal output after strict regulations were implemented in 2006 following the Sago mine disaster that killed 12 miners.
Leer told Reuters the regulatory environment from a safety perspective is likely to be rigorous for the industry.
Although 2009 was the safest year yet for the US mining industry, with 18 fatalities, the explosion at Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia has led to calls for tighter rules and higher penalties for violations.
An independent team of occupational safety experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will be appointed to examine the outcomes of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s internal review of the West Virginia mine explosion.