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Coal miner Allegiance Coal is continuing to face difficulties at its New Elk operation, in British Columbia, but is hopeful that it will be able to address issues around sustaining the workforce and investing in equipment to minimise downtime at the mine.

The ASX-listed miner on Tuesday said a continuous miner at the New Elk mine, which had been sent for maintenance and had subsequently sprung an oil leak that required additional maintenance work, will be deployed underground this week.

Miner reliability has been a continuous issue for the New Elk operation, along with labour issues. However, Allegiance is hopeful that production at New Elk will improve with the return of the continuous miner along with the first of the newly sourced overhaul articulating head roof bolters, which are now operating underground.

In addition to the mechanical issues at the mine, New Elk’s general manager and the mine superintendent have both left, by mutual agreement with the company. The mine’s chief mining engineer, along with CEO Jon Romcke, have taken over operations until a recruitment process has been finalised.

Allegiance told shareholders that the change in personnel provided the company with the opportunity to re-evaluate the approach to staffing and operations at the mine.

Meanwhile, two coal mines in neighbouring New Mexico and Utah have closed, providing Allegiance with an opportunity to recruit available mineworkers. The company has also entered into supply arrangements with labour hire companies to recruit workers.

“We have set up a shift roster with a view to engaging workers on a seven-day on and seven-day off cycle to allow them to work at the mine but also to remain living at home, a roster structure preferred by many,” the company said.

At the Black Warrior mine, production performance is trending positively and in line with mine planning, Allegiance said.