updated 5/12/2009 6:21:05 PM ET 2009-05-12T22:21:05

The owner and operator of Utah's Crandall Canyon mine on Tuesday settled lawsuits filed by the families of the miners and rescuers who were killed or injured by two cave-ins in 2007.

The settlement — the largest in Utah mining history — was signed by lawyers for the defendants and the families of the 12 men who were killed or injured.

Six miners were trapped by a thunderous collapse at Crandall Canyon on Aug. 6, 2007. Another collapse 10 days later killed three rescuers, including a federal mining inspector, and injured three others.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but lawyers for the families said it exceeded the more than $20 million paid to families of 27 victims of a 1984 explosion and fire at the closed Wilberg mine in the same Utah coal district.

Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp. subsidiary UtahAmerican Energy Inc. said the settlement resolved costly and challenging technical issues and heads off an expensive trial.

"The geomechanics of coal mining under a mountain are extremely complex and difficult to assess," said Jason W. Hardin, a lawyer for UtahAmerican.

Five other companies linked to the mine's operation were part of the settlement, plus six insurance companies.

The other companies were two other Murray Energy affiliates that operated and held the lease on the Crandall Canyon mine; mining consultants Agapito Associates Inc. of Grand Junction, Colo.; mine co-owner Intermountain Power Agency; and its major partner, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

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