States to make digital maps for mines

The Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration awarded almost $4 million in grants to 13 states to help pay for systems to digitize maps of abandoned mines.

Most maps are in paper form, scattered among offices managed by mining companies and agencies at the federal, state and local levels. Officials said they also have to separate good data from maps with questionable accuracy.

Funding will allow states to digitize and provide electronic data to mine operators about the location of underground mines.

States receiving the funds are West Virginia ($1.2 million); Kentucky and Pennsylvania ($1 million each); Virginia ($317,000); Ohio, Utah, Illinois and Indiana ($52,000 each); Colorado and Alabama ($51,000 each); Maryland and New Mexico ($50,000 each); and New York ($25,000).

The importance of accurate mine maps received national attention in July 2002 when nine Pennsylvania coal miners were trapped in an underground mine for four days.

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