West Elk, operated by Arch’s Mountain Coal Company, recently earned three of Colorado’s top awards: the Best of Best Environmental Award, the Excellence in Coal Mine Reclamation Award, and the Excellence in Safety Award.

Most notably, West Elk earned top safety recognition for a fifth consecutive year for achieving a peer-best rate among Colorado’s underground coal mines. The mine’s 2013 total incident rate of 0.27 per 200,000 employee hours was 94% lower than the national underground average rate of 4.91; the mine has logged more than 2 million employee hours over two years without a lost-time safety incident.

The mine also took the state’s “best of best” environmental award for its stewardship and pollution prevention in the coal sector; it has operated for more than 14 years with perfect SMCRA environmental compliance in Colorado.

Finally, the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety recognized it for innovative vegetation and reclamation practices on challenging local topography, including recycling water at its new coal preparation plant, which eliminates water discharge and reduces fresh water usage.

“Our extraordinary success is attributed to the involvement and commitment of our entire workforce in the proactive, behavior-based process,” said Jim Miller, mine general manager. “Each of us takes responsibility for safety and environmental performance.”