Sunday, November 12, 2006

International Roundup


A rock fall in Tasmania that killed one miner and trapped two others for 14 days this April at the Beaconsfield Gold Mine is still under investigation. The head of the Australian Workers Union expressed confidence in the investigation, but was not sure if it's safe for the mine to re-open.

The miners, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, recently addressed an AWU conference and have written a book about their experience.

Meanwhile, the mininster of mines for Queensland held special safety meetings after the Moranbah North coal mine had eight accidents in 3 months.

Coal mine owner Anglo says work practices at the troubled Moranbah North Mine stand up to scrutiny against any in the world....

There have been four roof collapses...and two miners seriously hurt in accidents since August.


The 8th European Development fund is buying new safety equipment to help extend the life of the "threatened" BCL Mine. In all, 3,335 AfroxPac 35’s are being bought. was awarded to Afrox’s safety self-rescue division.

The manufacturer's description of the AfroxPac 35 is here. Apparently it suppplies 35 minutes of oxygen. In African mines, emphasis often is on getting miners safely to refuge areas underground.

The European Development Fund is a European Community venture.


It is hard to keep up with the accidents in China. Reuters has a recent summary:

BEIJING, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Accidents at two Chinese coal mines have killed at least seven workers as the death toll from a gas explosion at a third mine a week ago rose to 23, the official Xinhua news agency said.

In the latest disaster to hit the coal-dependent nation, two miners were killed on Friday after the wagon in which they were travelling broke free from a steel cord in the Xinchun mine in Jilin province in the northeast, Xinhua said.

The news came as the toll from an explosion on Wednesday at the privately owned Xinpo mine in the central province of Hunan rose to five, with at least 12 still unaccounted for, it said. Both the chief and deputy head of that mine had fled the scene.

Meanwhile, hopes had all but faded for 24 workers missing at the mine in the northern province of Shanxi, where Xinhua said 23 miners were now known to have died in a gas blast a week ago.....

Accidents in China's coal mines killed 345 miners in October, nearly 50 percent more than in the previous month, despite years of government pledges to improve standards.

Between January and October, around 3,630 Chinese miners died in more than 2,000 accidents.


BEIJING: Ten miners were killed in northern China after a coal mine was flooded, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

The mishap occurred Tuesday at an illegal mine in Shanxi's provincial capital of Taiyuan, Xinhua said, citing an unnamed spokesman with the Taiyuan municipal bureau.
Rescuers have recovered all 10 bodies, the agency said.

Xinhua did not say what caused the flood. Police were searching for the owner of the mine.

And finally, the enforcement outcome from a previous incident:

A coal mine in southwest China's Guizhou province has been fined 2.65 million yuan (about 330,000 U.S. dollars) following a fatal gas leak that killed 15 miners in March, according to the local coal mine safety watchdog on Wednesday.

Wulunshan colliery, which was being built when the tragedy occurred, was immediately ordered to cease construction and ordered to take measures to improve safety in the coal mine...

The gas leak occurred at 10 p.m. March 26 when 104 miners were carrying out construction work underground. The release of a sudden burst of gas killed 15 workers. Eighty-nine miners managed to escape.

Investigations showed that Wulunshan Coal Industry Co. Ltd. had failed to properly study the complicated geological conditions in the area and had not taken efficient measures to prevent a gas leak.

Company management was inadequate and safety measures were not strictly implemented, according to investigations.

The investigation also revealed that construction of the coal mine had begun without approval from higher authorities, and that managers had falsified files of miners working underground. Miners had received no training in how to prevent and escape gas leaks, according to investigators.

Qin Lerao, chairman of the board of directors and general manager of the company, received a serious warning from the Party and was fined 30,000 yuan (3,750 U.S. dollars).

Ten other company managers received Party warnings, administrative sanctions, demotions or fines or were dismissed....

South Africa

Officials are discussing more measures to curb accidents.

SAFETY programmes in the country’s mines were not enough to prevent disasters, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica told Parliament’s minerals and energy committee yesterday

“What is required is an early warning sign technology that will make it possible for these accidents to be predicted,” she said.

While efforts were being made to develop this, the task of protecting lives was not easy, she said. “In the absence of such a technology, fatal accidents won’t disappear in our mines.”

However, government did not have the option of closing down “unsafe” mines since that would lead to massive job losses.

Sonjica said her department was working with the industry to find a solution to the safety problem. “I think we also need to admit that by its very nature this is a dangerous environment.”

African National Congress MP Nomvula Mathibela said the industry’s safety record and the recent increase in fatal mine accidents were among factors discouraging more women from working in the industry.

“Some of the mines in Carletonville are more than 3km deep, and they are still digging deeper. There are so many accidents in our mines and something needs to be done to prevent people from dying,” the MP said.

Her comments come a fortnight after the death of five miners trapped underground at AngloGold Ashanti’s Tau Tona mine near Carletonville.


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