"We are committed to zero," Harvey told industry stock analysts in a quarterly conference call. "Our people are committed to zero. Zero is a real number, and we intend to drive the company toward that goal.
"We don't believe we are perfect," Harvey said, "but we believe we can achieve a perfect place when it comes to the safety of individuals."
In the wake of the deaths at nonunion Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine, UMW officials have bragged about the safety record at unionized operations, especially those run by Consol. Union President Cecil Roberts testified to Congress just two weeks ago that of the mining deaths so far this year, "not one was at a union operation."
Roberts said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon, "The hearts and prayers of the entire UMWA membership are with the family of the miner who died today in an incident at the Loveridge Mine in West Virginia. Along with his co-workers at the mine, we mourn this tragic loss.
"Representatives of the UMWA Local Union 9909 Health and Safety Committee are working with federal and state authorities, as well as the company, to determine the exact cause of this incident," Roberts said. "International union safety experts are on their way to the mine to participate in the investigation. We will find out what happened here, and we will take whatever steps are necessary to keep it from happening again."
In 2008 and 2009, at least six miners were killed on the job at Consol operations in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The most recent fatality at Loveridge was in February 1996, when part of a mine wall collapsed onto miner Glen E. Mathess. MSHA investigators concluded that Consol had not properly evaluated the mine wall and roof to remove loose materials. The company paid $7,032 in fines, records show.
During the previous 10 years, the Loveridge Mine had an accident rate that was better than the national average every year, but its rate for the first quarter of 2010 was slightly worse than the national figures, according to MSHA data.
Two weeks ago, as part of the mine's ongoing quarterly review, MSHA inspectors cited the Loveridge operation for two violations of rules meant to protect miners from roof and wall collapses, according to agency records.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.