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

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 →

Document lists all mines that used McIntyre Powder – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – December 29, 2017)

TIMMINS – The McIntyre Powder Project has obtained a document that outlines all the mines in Ontario where aluminum dust was used in an ill-fated attempt to protect workers from developing a lung condition known as silicosis.

At the time, the mines were unaware of the potential toxic effects of having their workers inhale aluminum dust particles.

At least a dozen mines from Timmins and the immediate surrounding area are listed in that document, which Janice Martell, of McIntyre Powder Project, said was obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Continue Reading →

Hundreds risk lives in Morocco ‘mines of death’ (Asia One – December 27, 2017)

AFP – Jerada, Morocco – They call them “the mines of death”. In the neglected northern Moroccan mining city of Jerada, hundreds of people risk their lives every day to scrape a meagre living from perilous abandoned coal pits.

Last week, two brothers died in a tunnel accident, 85 metres (90 yards) below ground, sparking days of mass protests in the impoverished city. Abderrazak Daioui, who was with the brothers, narrowly escaped the same fate. “Houcine and Jedouane were just below me,” the 22-year-old said.

“One of them dug horizontally and hit a water well. We were flooded. I hung on my rope and managed to get back up. They weren’t so lucky.” Living in a modest, unfinished house, Abderrazak works to support his wife and daughter, his six brothers and his 80-year-old father – himself a former miner. Continue Reading →

The harrowing stories of the worst mining disasters to ever hit Wales (Wales – December 26, 2017)

More than 6,000 miners are believed have been killed in tragedies down the years

The stories of the most devastating mining disasters to ever hit Wales have been told. In November a poignant ceremony was held in the Rhondda to remember 150 years on from when 178 men and boys died having descended 278 yards below the ground for work at Ferndale and Blaenllechau colliery.

Sadly the disaster is one of a long list of mining disasters that took place across Wales. John Smith runs the extensive research website Welsh Coal Mines and said he, together with another member, was researching every fatal accident ever reported in south Wales.

Mr Smith said the number of miners killed in disasters amounts to “over 6,000” down the years. Using research from the website, which utilises information from newspapers and archives, as well as other sources, here are the stories of the six biggest mining disasters to ever hit Wales. Continue Reading →

Trump reconsiders rules protecting miners from black lung (Washington Post/Associated Press – December 15, 2017)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — President Donald Trump’s mining regulators are reconsidering regulations meant to protect underground miners from breathing coal and rock dust – the cause of black lung – and diesel exhaust, which can cause cancer.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has asked for public comments on whether standards “could be improved or made more effective or less burdensome by accommodating advances in technology, innovative techniques, or less costly methods.”

Some “requirements that could be streamlined or replaced in frequency” involve coal and rock dust. Others address diesel exhaust , which can have health impacts ranging from headaches and nausea to respiratory disease and cancer. Continue Reading →

Mine Fatalities in South Africa Rise First Time in Decade – by Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – December 8, 2017)

For the first time in almost a decade, more people are dying in South African mines, the world’s deepest and among the most dangerous.

There were 81 fatalities from January through November, according to data from the Chamber of Mines, an industry lobby group. Harmony Gold Mining Co. reported a death at its Tshepong Mine Thursday, bringing the total to 82. That’s the first increase in nine years, and compares with 73 in 2016, the lowest on record.

South Africa has gone from being by far the deadliest place to work in a mine to ranking near rivals including the U.S. and Canada for fatality rates. Conditions have improved in the decades since whites-only rule ended in 1994 — a year in which 484 workers died. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 1-South African gold miners’ silicosis lawsuit nearing settlement-lawyers – by Wendell Roelf (Reuters U.S. – November 22, 2017)

CAPE TOWN, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Lawyers acting for thousands of gold miners who contracted lung diseases at work in South African mines said on Wednesday an out-of-court settlement with their employers could be reached by December.

A High Court ruling last year set the stage for protracted proceedings on cases dating back decades in the largest class action suit yet in Africa’s most industrialised country.

Many of the nearly half a million miners who contracted silicosis and tuberculosis, are from nearby countries who supplied labour to South African mines. Continue Reading →

Deaths spike in South Africa’s deep and dangerous mines, reversing trend – by Ed Stoddart (Reuters U.S. – November 7, 2017)

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 7 (Reuters) – The 2017 death toll in South Africa’s mines has already surpassed the 2016 figure, ending nine straight years of falling fatalities in the world’s deepest mines and raising red flags for the industry, government and labour groups.

The trend reversal is likely to reignite investor concern over mine safety and could prompt regulators to step up shaft inspections, which often result in costly production stoppages.

“Fatal accidents last week raised the number of fatalities in 2017 to 76, above the 73 reported in 2016. This is particularly disappointing given the consistent improvement the industry has seen over the past two decades,” South Africa’s Chamber of Mines said in a statement. Continue Reading →