Rhino Eastern has effected management changes at its Eagle Mine 3 in Wyoming County, West Virginia, after the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) warned that the mine poses a risk of explosion and back lung disease.
The company has also conceded that that the mine falls short of required safety standards.
During an inspection carried-out on 24 June, MSHA inspectors found that the mine violates 38 standards, including a lack of ventilation, methane and dust control plans at several locations.
The inspectors said that the company has not taken effective steps to control coal dust, which puts miners at risk of developing black lung disease and leaves the mine vulnerable to deadly explosions.
MSHA assistant secretary Joseph A Main said the alarming conditions found at Eagle Mine 3 show that common sense practices to prevent black lung, explosions and other hazards had been ignored.
"There is absolutely no excuse for allowing such dangerous conditions to exist, and miners deserve better," Main said.
The 38 violations include seven 104(d) (2) closure orders for ventilation problems and issues relating to equipment conditions, damaged electrical cables, self-contained self-rescuers and the presence of combustible materials.
Main noted that the new respirable dust regulations aimed at ending black lung, which come into effect on 1 August, address the shortfall in dust controls that were found at Eagle Mine 3.
"The practices found at this mine highlight why we need these improved dust standards," Main added.
Rhino Eastern is a joint venture between Rhino Resource Partners, which owns 51% of the unit, and Patriot Coal, which owns the remaining 49%.