High suicide rate exists among miners, research indicates – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – July 8, 2024)


Local study revealed one in 10 had considered taking their own lives, and a similar percentage had PTSD

A recent report from the U.S. that points to a high suicide rate among miners comes as sobering but not surprising news to folks locally who have done some of their own research on mental-health issues within the industry.

“It’s not a shock but it continues to sadden me that we are seeing those kind of numbers,” said Michel Lariviere, a Laurentian Unversity professor who co-authored a study through the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health on levels of stress, depression and suicidal tendency among workers in this field. “And in a community that is still very much a mining community, it reflects on collective wellbeing for an entire city.”

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The Dirty, Deadly Price We Pay for Clean Cars – by Janet Paskin, Yang Yang, Naomi Ng and Jessica Beck (Bloomberg News – June 17, 2024)


(Bloomberg) — Never miss an episode. Follow The Big Take Asia podcast today.

Indonesia’s nickel business is booming. The metal is a key component in electric car batteries, but its success has a dark side. The country’s nickel mines and processing plants have a history of fatal accidents, with workers being run over by forklifts and burnt to death in smelter fires.

Today on The Big Take Asia, host Janet Paskin speaks with Bloomberg Businessweek editor Matt Campbell about his investigation into the mines. He found that nickel sourced from these plants are present in the supply chain that feeds virtually every major seller of EVs, and is an indispensable part of the car industry’s green revolution.

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‘Enough hot air, we want fresh air’: How a wildcat miners’ strike helped change Ontario labour law – by Jamie Bradburn (TVO Today – April 18, 2024)


Fifty years ago, uranium miners in Elliot Lake hit the picket line, triggering a series of events that led to protections for all workers in the province

“Silicosis is an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death. Silicosis is the result of the body’s response to the presence of silica particles in the lung. Silica particles are very small in size and can reach deep into the lungs (into the alveoli), where they are removed by white blood cells.

Free crystalline silica causes the white blood cells to break open, which forms scar-like patches on the surface of the alveolus. When a large number of these “scars” form, the alveolar surfaces become less elastic. Over time, this damage reduces the transfer of gases, which can lead to shortness of breath.” — Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website

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Turkey suspends search for SSR Mining employees who went missing after landslide – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – February 20, 2024)


A rescue effort to find nine employees of SSR Mining Inc. who went missing after a landslide at a gold mine in Turkey last week has been suspended, as authorities try to prevent an environmental catastrophe.

On Feb. 13, a landslide slammed into SSR Mining’s Çöpler mine in Turkey, hitting the company’s onsite heap leach gold processing plant. Despite a search and rescue effort involving more than 400 members of Turkey’s national disaster relief agency, the missing workers have not been found.

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More than 70 are dead after an unregulated gold mine collapsed in Mali, an official says – by Baba Ahmed (Associated Press – January 24, 2024)


BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — An unregulated gold mine collapsed late last week in Mali, killing more than 70 people, an official said Wednesday, and a search continued amid fears that the toll could rise. Karim Berthé, a senior official at the government’s National Geology and Mining Directorate, confirmed the details to The Associated Press and called it an accident.

There were around 100 people in the mine at the time of the collapse, according to Abdoulaye Pona, president of the Mali Chamber of Mines, who was at the scene.

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How Miners Are Still Paying the Costs of Pursuing an ‘American Dream’ – by Taylor Sisk (Good Men Project – January 19, 2024)


They went into the mines to secure a better life for their loved ones. Unfortunately, they emerged with ravaged lungs and damaged psyches.

“I’ve loaded more coal in my sleep than I have in the mines,” says Terry Lilly. The words don’t come easy. Though retired, Lilly remains ever a coal miner. It’s said coal miners are a stoic sort. Inner revelations aren’t in Lilly’s nature. But it’s also physically difficult for him to share those words.

Black lung has seen to that. Lilly went underground in 1975, at 18. Thirty years in, shortly after returning from hernia surgery, he was buried in a collapse. “I broke a leg, both knees, a hip, my back. And while I was in the hospital, I had blood clots go through my lungs. I lay in ICU for 18 days. Should have died.”

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Report outlines cost of Indonesia’s EV dream as Chinese-funded nickel plants linked to pollution, ‘land grabbing’ – by Resty Woro Yuniar (South China Morning Post – January 17, 2024)


A new report accuses a massive China-funded nickel industrial complex in Indonesia’s Maluku province of causing “significant” environmental destruction and existential threats to indigenous peoples in the area, adding to the array of issues the nation faces in becoming a major player in the global electric vehicle (EV) supply chain.

Released on Wednesday by the US-based Climate Rights International (CRI) advocacy group, the report also alleges that the Indonesia Weda Bay Industrial Park (IWIP) in Halmahera, Maluku, worked with Indonesian police to protect the interests of some nickel miners by engaging in “land grabbing, coercion and intimidation of indigenous peoples”.

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Navajo Nation faces possible new threats after decades of uranium mining – by Kate Holland and Tenzin Shakya (ABC News – December 7, 2023)


A Canadian company is working to move forward with uranium extraction.

Just miles from the site of the 1979 Church Rock Mill spill, the largest nuclear disaster in American history, uranium extraction operations could resume near the Navajo Nation. Now, Navajo leaders say the health and prosperity of their community could be in even further jeopardy.

A Canadian company is working to move forward with uranium extraction, an industry that has a lengthy history around the Navajo Nation. “The pursuit of happiness for us is to be able to live in our communities without fear from the impact of radiation and uranium,” said Teracita Keyanna, who grew up near an abandoned uranium mine in New Mexico. “It’s been really scary, just being a mom in this area.”

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‘We didn’t know we were poisoning ourselves’: the deadly legacy of the US uranium boom – by Tracy Tullis (The Guardian – November 20, 2023)


The Diné helped dig the raw materials to build the US’s nuclear arsenal, but were never told of the danger

Allen Tsosie was just 14 when he went to work in the uranium mines in the Lukachukai mountains near Cove, Arizona. Tsosie was one of thousands of Navajos who took jobs in the mines, starting in the 1940s. They worked without masks or ventilation to disperse the lethal radon gas, and they were never told the rocks they were handling – leetso in the Diné language, or yellow dirt – were deadly.

In Cove, “you see a lot of women and children,” said Kathleen Tsosie, Allen’s daughter, because hundreds of men who worked in the mines have died.

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Chinese companies are investing billions in Indonesia’s nickel industry — but working conditions can be deadly – by Hellena Souisa, Kai Feng and Sally Brooks (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – November 4, 2023)


Chinese electrician Mr Ding says he saw co-workers die, a crane catch fire and worked for “175 days straight” during an 18-month stint at two nickel refining sites in Indonesia. His experiences left him with a critical view of the Chinese companies he worked for.

“There’s an old Chinese saying that money makes the devil work,” Mr Ding said. The 42-year-old, who requested to be identified only by his surname, worked as an electrician at two nickel refining hubs in Sulawesi between 2017 and 2020.

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Deep Inside Mountains, Work Is Getting Much More Dangerous – by Drew A. Harris (New York Times – August 2, 2023)


Drew Harris is the medical director of Stone Mountain Health Services black lung program and an associate professor of pulmonary and critical-care medicine at the University of Virginia.

As a high school baseball star, Denver Hoskins led Kentucky in home runs and was invited to try out for the Cincinnati Reds. But when his father got sick (and later died) from black lung, a disease caused by inhaling mineral dust, the younger Mr. Hoskins gave up his Division I college scholarship offer to support his family.

Following in his father’s footsteps, he went to work as a coal miner. By the age of 44, Mr. Hoskins was diagnosed with his own case of the most severe form of black lung. He now breathes from an oxygen tank at night and watches his son’s batting practice from the sidelines.

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Coal miners would be protected from black lung disease under proposed silica rule – by Robert Benincasa (Georgia Public Broadcasting – July 5, 2023)


The Labor Department is proposing a new rule limiting miners’ exposure to silica — a toxic dust created by cutting into rock that has been linked to a recent epidemic of severe black lung disease among coal miners.

“The purpose of this proposed rule is simple: prevent more miners from suffering from debilitating and deadly occupational illnesses by reducing their exposure to silica dust,” Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson said in a statement. The move comes after decades of regulatory inaction highlighted in an NPR/FRONTLINE investigation in 2018.

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Workers in construction, mining most impacted by opioid-related harm: research – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – June 30, 2023)


Findings are part of the ongoing research of Opioid-related Harms Among Ontario Workers study

Previously injured workers in sectors including construction, mining and forestry are more likely to end up in the emergency room or to be hospitalized due to opioid-related harm than workers in other sectors in Ontario.

That’s according to findings from Opioid-related Harms Among Ontario Workers, an ongoing research project being conducted by the Institute for Work & Health and the Occupational Cancer Research Centre.

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‘Movement’ detected at South African mine where dozens suspected dead, but no search operation yet – by Gerald Imray (National Post/Associated Press – June 27, 2023)


CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South African authorities have detected “movement” underground at a shuttered gold mine where they believe at least 31 illegal miners died in a suspected gas explosion last month, raising the very slim possibility that there may be survivors, officials said.

Officials also said it’s likely that there were more illegal miners underground than initially thought and the death count will be higher than 31. But a search operation at the disused Virginia gold mine in the central city of Welkom has not yet been launched because of the dangerously high levels of methane gas still present in the mine, which means there could be more explosions.

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Honouring Sudbury’s fallen miners: ‘It’s a big price to pay for a pound of nickel’ – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – June 20, 2023)


Health and safety in the mining industry in Greater Sudbury has come a long way over the past 95 years, so much, in fact, that where fatal mining accidents were once commonplace, they are now a rarity, according to a retired electrician at Falconbridge Limited.

“Since 1929, 100 men lost their lives,” Tom Rannelli said at the 39th-annual Workers’ Memorial Day service held at the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Falconbridge on Tuesday. “That’s approximately one a year. That’s just at Falconbridge.

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