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FOCUS | Kentucky miner's death shows national trend

James Brown, 33, who was an experienced roof bolter, became the eleventh miner nationwide to die in just the first three months of this year.
Credit: WHAS

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Sunday’s deadly roof collapse inside a Harlan County coal mine sheds light on miner deaths which are trending higher.

James Brown, 33, who was an experienced roof bolter, became the eleventh miner nationwide to die in just the first three months of this year. There have been 12 deaths so far.

During that same time span last year, there were only eight miner deaths according to the U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration.

That’s a 50% increase.

Overall in 2021, there were 36 miners who died on the job nationwide, including one coal miner in Kentucky.

That was down from the previous two years. There were two Kentucky coal miner deaths in 2020 and six in 2019.

The Harlan County coal mine is owned by Inmet Mining LLC, based in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Records show that last year the mine had five accidents, with one of those accidents involving another roof bolter.

Meanwhile, federal data also shows a new trend of roof collapses at mines.

Between 2018 and 2021, there weren’t any.

However, just three months into 2022, there have already been two in Kentucky.

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