updated 3/21/2007 11:25:21 AM ET 2007-03-21T15:25:21

The owner of the Sago Mine, where 12 men died after an explosion last year, said Wednesday it is idling the coal operation because of high production costs and weak prices.

International Coal Group Inc. spokesman Ira Gamm described shutdown as a purely business decision.

"No other factors are involved," he said. "This was a business decision, part of our ongoing evaluation of our operations."

The 12 miners died after a methane gas explosion trapped them deep inside the Upshur County mine in January 2006. Only one man survived the carbon monoxide poisoning when rescuers reached the trapped crew 40 hours later.

Sago was the highest-profile coal mining accident in recent U.S. history and led to sweeping changes in federal and state mine safety laws.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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