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Friday, December 3, 2010 - 3:15pm

Mining Giant CEO Steps Down

The controversial CEO of coal mining giant Massey Energy says he's retiring at the end of the month.

Don Blankenship and his company managed the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died in an explosion in April.

His departure as CEO is effective immediately; he retires fully from the company at the end of the month. The announcement came in a statement issued by the company's Board of Directors.Blankenship is quoted in that statement as saying it is time to move on.No other explanation for the move was given.

Blankenship is scheduled to testify in two weeks in the joint state and federal investigation of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.His company is also under scrutiny in a federal criminal investigation.

Blankenship also chairs the Massey board, which has confirmed it is considering a sale of the company.

The board recently affirmed a departure package for Blankenship worth about $10 million.In nearly three decades at Massey Energy, Blankenship became known for obsessive focus on coal production and bitter criticism of federal regulation.

Effective Friday, Massey will be replaced by Massey President Baxter F. Phillips Jr. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit