* 5.3 Richter-scale quake measured in Kemerovo region
* Governor calls for temporary halt to underground mining
* Evraz, Mechel say mining operations not affected
MOSCOW, June 19 (Reuters) - A regional governor called a temporary halt to underground mining in Russia’s coal-producing heartland after a moderate earthquake on Wednesday, although some firms said they had resumed work after safety checks.
Work has stopped in some of the Kemerovo region’s underground mines, which produced around 80 million tonnes of coal in 2012, after the region’s governor ordered all work suspended until the state industrial safety watchdog gives the all-clear.
The Kemerovo government also requested blastwork should stop for three days in all open-pit mines, it said on its website.
Located around 3,600 kilometres (2,235 miles) east of Moscow, Kemerovo is part of western Siberia’s Kuznetsk Basin, or Kuzbass, one of Russia’s biggest coal deposits developed during the Soviet industrialisation of the 1930s.
Measuring a “moderate” 5.3 on the Richter scale, the tremor struck about 160 kilometres south of the regional centre of Kemerovo at a depth of 9.8 kilometres in the early hours of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
No deaths or significant damage have been reported as a result of the earthquake, the regional government said, adding the structural condition of large industrial buildings would be tested.
Russian coking coal miner Raspadskaya confirmed the temporary halt in coal production.
“The coal mines of Raspadskaya, like all of Kuzbass coal mines, shut down after the telegram from the emergency ministry,” a company spokesman said.
However, a spokesman for Russian steelmaker Evraz, said all its mines in the region were operating as normal after safety checks found nothing had been damaged by the tremors.
Russian coal giant Mechel , which operates the Southern Kuzbass Coal Company in the region, also said its coal operations were running as usual, when contacted by Reuters.
Underground mining accounts for around 40 percent of the region’s coal output, which in turn produces 60 percent of all Russian coal.