Castle Gate Coal Co., a subsidiary of AMAX Coal Industries, has indefinitely suspended production at the Castle Gate Mine near Helper, Utah, due to geologic problems, spokesman Jeffrey Weber says.

Mining operations were halted March 22 after the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a citation for hazardous coal and rock bursts, Weber said.Thomas Blangiardo, president of Castle Gate, said the mine has experienced unusual geologic conditions for the past several months.

"These bursts currently present an uncontrollable and unstable mining environment for our employees," Blangiardo said. "We have evaluated and attempted various methods for destressing the coal to overcome this problem and have retained outside consultants to assist us in this process.

"However, to date, we have been unable to satisfactorily resolve this situation to the point where we can safely resume operations," he said. "We plan to continue evaluating geologic conditions and mining techniques in the hope of resuming mining operations at Castle Gate in the future."

Although coal production has been suspended, Blangiardo said the company will resume certain work, effective Monday, involving coal preparation, maintenance and other related activities.

But after June 5, only about 17 of the mine's employees will remain at the property, while 156 hourly and 41 salaried workers will be indefinitely laid off, Swenson said.

Castle Gate began operating the mine in 1986 and produced 544,000 tons of coal in 1988, he said.