FARMINGTON — BHP Billiton reopened San Juan Mine's longwall equipment on May 4 after it was closed for nearly nearly eight months following a fire.

San Juan Generating Station, which depends on coal from the mine, was able to continue operating during the shutdown because of a months-long coal reserve kept on hand at the power plant in Waterflow.

BHP Billiton reassigned employees to other tasks during the shutdown. Some were sent to nearby Navajo Mine, which is also operated by BHP Billiton. No employees were laid off because of the shutdown, BHP Billiton said in a prepared statement Friday announcing the reopening.

“We appreciate the hard work and support of our employees, our suppliers and MSHA, as well as the various government entities in working with San Jan Mine to safely resume operations,” said Jac Fourie, president of BHP Billiton's New Mexico Coal unit. “Our core focus continues to be the safety and well being of everyone working in the mine.”

MSHA, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, oversees mine safety.