Twenty-nine miners died in the April 5 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, making it the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster in 40 years. The explosion is the subject of multiple civil investigations, a congressional review and a federal criminal probe.
Blankenship disclosed Wednesday that Massey hopes to reopen parts of the mine that weren't damaged by the explosion and might build a new entrance to get at some of the Upper Big Branch operation's coal reserves. Details are still being worked out, but production could begin within six months, he said.
In late April, Massey said in U.S. Securities and Exchange filings that the disaster could cost it between $80 million and $150 million.
On Tuesday, the company's latest quarterly earnings statement put the costs at $128.9 million. It said the figure included charges for loss of equipment, investigative costs, workers' compensation and other compensation and benefits for the families, and charges expected to be incurred for litigation.
Massey has offered the miners' families settlements ranging from $3 million to $5 million to resolve potential lawsuits over the Upper Big Branch deaths. Blankenship did not answer an analyst's question about how many such settlements have been reached to date.
"There is always risk in litigation, but we are continuing to negotiate with the families," Blankenship said.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.