Coal Tattoo

Breaking news: 2 miners missing in Kentucky

Two coal miners are missing this morning in Western Kentucky, following what’s been described as a massive roof fall at the Dotiki Mine near Nebo in Hopkins County.

We’re still waiting for some official word from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. But the Evansville Courier & Press reports:

A spokesman for the mine said the accident happened when an isolated portion of mine roof fell unexpectedly.

“Rescue operations were initiated immediately, but efforts to contact the miners have been unsuccessful,” said a spokeswoman for the mine, reading a statement.

Steve Earle, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers union (which has been trying to organize workers at a nearby sister mine, ), told me this morning:

It doesn’t look good.

The mine is operated by Webster County Coal LLC, which is a subsidiary of Alliance Resource Partners.

I’ve been unable so far to pull a history of the Dotki Mine, because MSHA’s online data system appears to be down. But contrary to some initial reports, this is a non-union mine.

But, there was a significant fire at the mine six years ago. And Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and U.K. basketball coach John Calipari were hobnobbing not long ago with Alliance CEO Joe Craft at the opening of a new mine. And there’s been a big debate in Kentucky over efforts by Craft and others to build the “Wildcat Coal Lodge,” for the basketball program.