SOMERSET, Colo., March 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) today announced that employees of Mountain Coal Company's West Elk mine and Ark Land Company were honored with Colorado's top coal mine safety award and two state environmental awards at the annual National Western Mining Conference in Denver. "We're honored to receive three statewide awards for operating responsibly in Colorado," said John W. Eaves, Arch's president and chief operating officer. "Our employees clearly recognize the importance of supplying safe, responsible, life-enabling and world-developing energy." The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety presented the 2011 Excellence in Safety Award to West Elk mine, the state's leader in safety among large underground coal mines. West Elk's rate of 1.70 MSHA total incidents per 200,000 employee-hours was 68 percent lower than the national underground average of 5.28 incidents. This marks the third consecutive year that West Elk has been recognized as Colorado's safest underground coal mine. West Elk also was recognized by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (CDRMS) for its environmental practices associated with its new $27 million coal preparation plant. West Elk's award-winning practices include limiting construction to existing disturbed areas, reducing coal refuse generation and improving resource recovery. In addition, the CDRMS recognized Ark Land Company with an Excellence in Reclamation award for its outstanding treatment of U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands during exploration and subsequent reclamation, including replacing native boulders and vegetation and re-grading former access roads on rugged terrain. Mountain Coal Company and Ark Land Company are subsidiaries of Arch Coal, Inc. Mountain Coal Company's West Elk mine is located in Somerset, Colo. West Elk opened in 1982 and has operated for more than 12 years without a Colorado SMCRA environmental violation. In 2011, more than 375 West Elk employees produced over 6 million tons of low-sulfur coal. The mine contributed $25.5 million in taxes and royalties to the state of Colorado in 2011. U.S.-based Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI) is a top five global coal producer and marketer, with 155 million tons of coal sold in 2011. Arch is the most diversified American coal company, with more than 20 active mining complexes across every major U.S. coal supply basin. Its core business is supplying cleaner-burning, low-sulfur thermal and metallurgical coal to power generators and steel manufacturers on five continents. In 2011, Arch continued to lead the U.S. coal industry in safety performance and environmental compliance among large, diversified producers.