Nevada’s gold mines have taken steps to prepare for the effects of earthquakes, at a time when technology is also making advances in how to predict them.
Earthquakes pose a serious threat to miners, both underground and open pit, as our report in the latest Weekend Edition of the Elko Daily Free Press pointed out. Mines have shut down operations and evacuated miners in response to earthquakes as a safety precaution.
Everyone remembers when a copper-gold mine in Chile collapsed in 2010 a few months after a major earthquake, trapping 33 miners. Efforts to save the miners stretched out for a record 69 days, resulting in their miraculous survival. The drama drew global attention and prompted the motion picture titled “The 33.”
The recent increase in earthquake activity in Nevada is a good reason to heighten concern about the potential for disaster, not only in mines but in our cities. The 6.0 quake that hit Wells in 2008 was a wake-up call that resulted in significant property damage but fortunately no injuries.
Recent earthquake swarms also raise concern, such as the prolonged one last year in the northwest corner of our state. More recently, a similar swarm has struck in the past month along the Nevada-Arizona border, oddly not far from where all the shaking began in last year’s Hollywood movie “San Andreas.”
Disasters may make good entertainment but there is nothing fun about the real thing as it is happening. That’s why mining companies take precautions such as the ones described in our article. Still, there is only so much they can do without the ability to know when an earthquake will strike.
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