Two miners are dead and 20 others injured after an accident at the Revenue-Virginius mine in Ouray on Sunday, according to Marti Whitmore, spokeswoman for Ouray County.

Twenty people, one of them in critical condition, were taken to hospitals in the area after an accident at the mine was reported to the sheriff's office after 7:20 a.m. The mine is 6 miles south of Ouray.

All but two miners have been treated and released, Whitmore said.

She said she didn't know what had happened at the mine, but the Ouray Watch newspaper reported there was an explosion.

The Star Mining Company in Denver, owner of the mine, couldn't be reached for comment.

The Watch reported that "mine manager Rory Williams of the Star Mining Company said the injuries were a result of miners breathing in gases and chemicals in the air following a blast."

A rescue party reached the bodies of two miners at about 3 p.m., and the Ouray County coroner declared them dead when they were brought to the surface, Whitmore said.

"There were two miners who didn't get out on their own, and the rescue operation was to retrieve them. When they were brought out they were declared fatalities," she said.

"We don't know if they are alive," she had said earlier in the day. " We know that it is not like there was a cave-in and they are behind rocks," Whitmore said.

Star Mining has accounted for all personnel who were at the site.


Advertisement

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration was at the site.

At least 14 were affected by gases in the explosion, nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide, according to the Watch.

The critically injured miner was taken to Montrose Memorial Hospital. An additional nine people were transported by ambulance to Montrose Memorial. Five people were transported to Delta Memorial Hospital, and five people were taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction.

The most recent mining fatality in Colorado happened June 14, 2012, when the water truck that 25-year-old Jason Kawcak was driving overturned at the Colowyo Mine in Moffat County, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Revenue-Virginius mine has been running a few months. The Colorado Department of Reclamation, Mining and Safety approved its permit Feb. 5.

Before Sunday's explosion, there were 34 fatalities at mines this year in the United States, according to the federal Department of Labor. There have been 15 mining deaths in Colorado in the past decade, according to the department's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

According to the Colorado Mining Association, the industry employs 12,000 people and ranks sixth nationally in mineral royalties; In 2008, the state received $178.4 million of coal, other mineral, oil and gas production royalties, half of which was used to fund public schools. Mineral severance taxes support local governments and important state programs, such as geologic hazard detection and avalanche prediction and prevention.

In Colorado, the industry extracts a variety of minerals valued at more than $2 billion annually. The following minerals are produced in significant amounts in Colorado: coal, gold, gypsum, limestone, silver, molybdenum, soda ash and sodium bicarbonate. A thriving aggregates industry (sand, gravel, crushed stone) also exists.