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Safety News – Around the world



On December 3, the former Chairman and CEO of the Massey Energy Company Don Blankenship was convicted of a federal charge of conspiring to violate mine safety standards, in the case of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in 2010, in which 29 miners were killed in a coal dust explosion.

An independent investigation commissioned by then Governor Joe Manchin found that Massey “engaged in a process of ‘normalization of deviance’ that, in the push to produce coal, made allowances for a faulty ventilation system, inadequate rock-dustingand poorly maintained equipment.”

Three other Massey executives have been sent to jail for the incident. Blankenship is expected to be sentenced early next year.


The death of a worker in a Sudbury mine in October put a spotlight on the safety on mining machinery.

Richard Pigeau, 54, was killed at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South mine after being struck by a piece of machinery.

Laurentian University’s Alison Godwin researches underground technology improvements and said work is underway to develop devices that can help machine operators become aware of their surroundings.

“There are some additional levels of detection technology out there that give the operator not only some awareness of what is there, but maybe an alarm or signal,” she said.

Investigations into the fatality are continuing.

Five gold miners were rescued in western Tanzania on November 17 after being trapped underground for 41 days, while 12 others are still missing.

The artisanal miners survived by eating roots, soil, frogs and cockroaches. The group had gone underground to rescue 11 other miners when they became trapped, police said.

Efforts by local people to rescue the Tanzanian miners were abandoned in October after about a week, as hopes of finding them faded, reports the BBC’s Alice Muthengi from the main city, Dar es Salaam.

But faint cries alerted other miners working nearby that the group was still trapped underground, and search operations hurriedly resumed at the mine.

The rescued miners were trapped about 100m underground after a shaft collapsed, the mining ministry said, the AFP news agency reports.

The areas where the artisanal gold miners work is largely unregulated, with no health and safety considerations.


A miner was killed on October 25 after a glacier break-off in Kaghan Valley of Mansehra district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. At least ten miners were buried in the incident.

Nine other labourers, who were working inside a ruby mine, were rescued from beneath the glacial debris and admitted to District Headquarters Hospital Mansehra for treatment of minor injuries, police said.

Kaghan Valley Police Station Station House Officer Gulnawaz Khan said that the miners had been working underneath the glacier at the time of the break-off.

Heavy snowfall in northern areas has caused a number of avalanches in the area.


At least 21 people were killed on November 20 in a fire at a mine operated by north-east China’s largest state-owned coal company.

The fire broke out at a mine operated by state giant Longmay Mining Holding Group in Heilongjiang province’s Jixi city in north-eastern China, the Xinhua news agency said, which earlier reported 22 miners were trapped.

Rescue workers had already found the bodies of 21 miners and were searching for one other missing person, Xinhua said, quoting the local government. A total of 38 miners were underground when the fire broke out.

The fire originated at a long conveyor belt used to carry materials which was set at a steep angle, local media reported.

The precise cause of the fire is under investigation.


A gas explosion in a coal mine has killed two miners and left eight others trapped in China on October 10.

The blast happened in Shangrao county in Jiangxi province, initially trapping 10 miners in the privately run Yongji Coal Mine, the Shangrao government information office said in an online statement. Two bodies were later found, it said. It gave no details on the cause of the blast.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the mine’s owner was being questioned by police.


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