Archive | Mining Accidents, Deaths, Cave-Ins and Industrial Disease

Navajo Nation urges expansion of radiation exposure law (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – July 10, 2018)

SHIPROCK, N.M. — From the end of World War II to the mid-1980s, about 30 million ton of uranium ore were extracted from lands belonging to the nation’s largest American Indian reservation. Today, across the Navajo Nation, sit dozens of abandoned uranium mines and the high risk to residents of contamination exposure.

Now, the Navajo Nation is urging the U.S. Congress to expand a federal law that compensates people who were exposed to radiation resulting from nuclear bomb tests stemming from the Cold War.

Currently, the law only covers people who lived downwind from nuclear test sites in Nevada, Arizona and Utah, as well as workers in the uranium mining industry in a dozen states. But the tribe says it’s time for Navajo Nation workers after 1971 to be included. Continue Reading →

Turkish court jails executives over 2014 mine disaster – by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu (Reuters U.S. – July 11, 2018)

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court sentenced five mining executives to up to 22 years in jail on Wednesday for their role in the coal mine disaster in May 2014 that killed 301 people, the ruling showed.

The deaths were caused by a fire that swept through the mine in the town of Soma, 480 km (300 miles) south of Istanbul. It was Turkey’s worst industrial disaster and the world’s biggest mining disaster this century.

Critics said the accident, which triggered mass protests, showed the government was too close to industry bosses and was insensitive, after Tayyip Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time and is now president, said the disaster was part of the profession’s “destiny.” Continue Reading →

U.S. coal industry needs ‘fundamental shift’ to fight black lung: report – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters U.S. – June 28, 2018)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Coal companies need to make a “fundamental shift” in how they control exposure to coal dust in underground mines to address the recent surge in black lung disease rates, according to a federal report released Thursday.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report found that even though coal operators largely comply with recently tightened rules requiring monitoring for coal dust, those measures may not be sufficient.

“There is an urgent need for monitoring and sampling strategies that enable continued, actual progress to be made toward the elimination of diseases associated with coal mine dust exposure,” said Thure Cerling, a biology professor at the University of Utah who helped write the report. Continue Reading →

1984 Falconbridge tragedy still echoes for Sudbury residents, mining community – by Benjamin Aubé (CBC News Sudbury – June 20, 2018)

Disaster led to 1986 inquiry into mine ground control and emergency preparedness

June 20, 1984, is a day that still resonates in the minds of many Sudbury residents and throughout the mining community. About 200 workers were on shift at Falconbridge Mine that morning. Four of them never got out.

At 10:12 a.m., a seismic event that registered a 3.5 on the Richter scale struck the mine, causing a major rock fall and trapping many of the miners.

Despite rescue attempts over the next several days, Sulo Korpela, Richard Chenier, Daniel Lavallee and Wayne St. Michel each lost their lives. On Wednesday, an annual service commemorating the 34-year anniversary of the tragedy was held at the Mine Mill 598 Unifor Campground at Lake Richard. Continue Reading →

Remembering the Cape Breton miner – by Sharon Montgomery-Dupe (Cape Breton Post – June 12, 2018)

NEW WATERFORD, N.S. — Shelly MacDonald couldn’t find medicine in New Waterford Monday morning but he did find solidarity. “I had to go out for cough drops for my son and first went to Pharmasave and found there and right down the strip all the stores closed,” said MacDonald, the great-grandson of the late Bill Davis.

MacDonald then realized the stores were once again honouring and showing respect for Davis Day. “I thought that was very respectful and it was much appreciated.”

Davis Day was remembered Monday with an ecumenical service at Calvin United Church in New Waterford followed by a service and laying of wreaths at Davis Square on Plummer Avenue that included a performance by the well-known coal miners chorale group, The Men of the Deeps. Continue Reading →

South Africa Union Seeks 12,500 Rand Minimum for Gold Miners – by Paul Burkhardt, Ntando Thukwana and Odwa Mjo (Bloomberg News – June 11, 2018)

(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union plans to demand a 12,500 rand ($950) monthly minimum wage from some of the country’s top gold producers in upcoming negotiations.

The labor group decided on its demands on Sunday at a mass meeting near Carletonville, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Johannesburg. It is the second-largest union at producers including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Sibanye Gold Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd., according to Minerals Council South Africa, a lobby representing the industry.

“12,500 rand, I think it can put the worker in a better place,” especially considering higher taxes and petrol prices, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said in an interview after the meeting. What workers are currently paid “isn’t fair.” Continue Reading →

INSIGHT-US coal lobby fights black-lung tax as disease rates surge – by Valerie Volcovici (Reuters Africa -June 1, 2018)

PRINCETON, West Virginia, June 1 (Reuters) – As a young man, Barry Shrewsbury dug coal in the West Virginia mines and spent his time off hunting and fishing in the rolling hills. Now, at 62, he struggles to breathe and accomplish basic tasks such as shopping and showering, and relies on a federal fund for ex-miners with black lung disease to pay for an oxygen tank and doctor visits.

“The benefits are a lifeline,” Shrewsbury said between labored breaths after a treatment at the Bluestone Health Center, an industrial-style building set against a leafy landscape in Princeton, West Virginia.

That lifeline is threatened. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is at risk of insolvency due to soaring debt and a slashing of coal-company contributions through a tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, according to a report the U.S. Government Accountability Office plans to publish soon, two sources briefed on the study told Reuters. Continue Reading →

South Africa miners reach 5 billion rand silicosis settlement with mining companies – by Ed Stoddard and Patricia Aruo (Reuters U.K. – May 3, 2018)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African gold producers agreed a 5 billion rand (294.39 million pounds) class action settlement on Thursday with law firms representing thousands of miners who contracted the fatal lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis, officials said on Thursday.

The most far-reaching class action settlement ever reached in South Africa follows a long legal battle by miners to win compensation for illnesses they say they contracted over decades because of negligence in health and safety.

The six companies involved had already set aside the settlement amount in provisions in previous financial statements and it should not affect future earnings, unless the number of claimants who come forward exceed the current provisions. Continue Reading →

South African gold miners agree to landmark silicosis, TB settlement – by Simone Liedtke ( – May 3, 2018)

JOHANNESBURG ( – The Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Abrahams Kiewitz and Richard Spoor Attorneys, on behalf of thousands of mineworkers, on Thursday reached a class action settlement with the Occupational Lung Disease (OLD) Working Group, which represents various South African gold mining companies.

The settlement, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, will see compensation paid to eligible mineworkers suffering from silicosis and/or tuberculosis (TB).

The settlement agreement is a result of three years of extensive negotiations between the representative attorneys and the OLD Working Group, which represents African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye-Stillwater. Continue Reading →

Environmental groups battle Mount Taylor mine decision(Albuquerque Journal – March 19, 2018)

Associated Press – GRANTS — Environmentalists are seeking to keep an idle uranium mine in western New Mexico from becoming active again, saying the designation will allow it to delay cleanup.

The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment and Amigos Bravos are asking the New Mexico Mining Commission to review a recent decision by state Mining and Minerals Division Director Fernando Martinez to allow the Mount Taylor mine to return to “active,” or operational, status, the Gallup Independent reports.

The groups say there is no realistic likelihood that mining will take place for the foreseeable future. Continue Reading →

South Africa gold miners’ silicosis lawsuit settlement expected within six weeks – by Ed Stoddard (Reuters U.S. – March 11, 2018)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African gold producers will likely reach a settlement within six weeks in a lawsuit over a fatal lung disease that companies have set aside 5 billion rand ($420 million) in provisions for, a lawyer and industry group said on Sunday.

“I am confident we will finalize the settlement within six weeks,” Richard Spoor, the human rights lawyer who has spearheaded the class action suit over the disease silicosis, which gold miners contract while working underground, told Reuters.

A spokesman for the working group on Occupational Lung Disease (OLD), a group put together by the six companies involved, said it was is“hopeful” the settlement can be reached in that timeframe. Continue Reading →

Memorial ride to honour late miner who inspired McIntyre Powder Project – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – March 9, 2018)

Research into impact of aluminum dust continues; compensation claims under review

Janice Martell cried when she learned the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) would hold a memorial cycling ride between Massey and Elliot Lake this May in tribute to her late father, Jim Hobbs.

The veteran miner made that same trek countless times between 1978 and 1990 while working for the area’s underground uranium mines. In retirement, Hobbs was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease – something his daughter attributes to his exposure to a finely ground aluminum dust known as McIntyre Powder – which eventually took his life in May 2017.

That ONIWG is recognizing the significance of occupational disease on the province’s workforce while honouring her father and other miners impacted by McIntyre Powder exposure is a gesture that touched Martell deeply. Continue Reading →

Who pays Ontario’s highest fine against a mining company? – by Matt Durnan (Northern Ontario Business – February 21, 2018)

First Nickel fined $1.3 million following 2014 deaths of two miners

Defunct First Nickel Inc. was fined $1.3 million by Justice David Stone in a Sudbury courtroom on Feb. 20 stemming from the May 2014 deaths of a pair of miners who were working at Lockerby Mine.

The ruling of six guilty counts by Stone prompted Crown counsel David McCaskill to seek fines totalling $1.5 million.After more than an hour of deliberation, Stone responded with fines $200,000 short of the Crown’s request, but it makes it the highest fine levied against any mining company in Ontario.

Two contract drillers at Lockerby Mine – Marc Methe, 34, and Norm Bisaillon, 49 – died May 6, 2014 after 12 tonnes of material fell from above, trapping and asphyxiating the two men. Continue Reading →

Record fine fails to impress Sudbury widow – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – February 21, 2018)

It no longer exists, but the company that owned and operated Lockerby Mine has been fined a record $1.3 million for the deaths two miners in May 2014. However, the widow of one of the miners said the financial penalty was meaningless, since First Nickel Inc. went out of business in 2016.

“It’s a joke,” Romeena Bisaillon, Norm Bisaillon’s widow, said in an interview after court closed Tuesday. “They (First Nickel) are not here. The company went bankrupt. There is no one to be held accountable for it …

“It doesn’t matter if it’s $1.3 million or $1.30. It’s the same thing. There is nobody going to pay for it.” Norm Bisaillon, 49, and Marc Methe, 34, who worked for Taurus Drilling Services, were killed in the fall of ground. First Nickel had hired Taurus Drilling for production mining work at Lockerby. Continue Reading →

More than 1,000 miners trapped underground in gold mine in South Africa as huge rescue operation is launched – by David Burke (The Mirror – February 1, 2018)

More than 1,000 miners have been trapped underground in South Africa following a storm. Reports say a powercut left hundreds of workers stuck at Sibyane Gold’s Beatrix Mine in the central Free State.

They became trapped on Wednesday night, prompting union bosses to raise concerns about safety standards. The National Union of Mineworkers said 65 mineworkers had been rescued but more than 1,000 remain underground.

“There is no electricity there, so they are using a generator to power the cage to take workers to the surface,” NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said. “The problem is they are rescuing one mineworker at a time. It is very slow. It is worrying. Continue Reading →