In Russia, Coal Is Still King. And The Government Wants Even More. – by Mike Eckel (Radio Free Europe – December 2, 2021)

The methane built up silently, first in the ceilings of the Russian coal shaft, then expanding downward, possibly undetected, until an errant spark ignited the cloud, setting off an explosion. Dozens of people — both miners and rescuers — were killed.

No, this wasn’t the tragedy that hit the Listvyazhnaya mine in Russia’s famed Kuzbass coal basin last week. This was another disaster that struck 11 years ago at another mine, Raspadskaya, about a three-hour drive to the southeast, also in the Kuzbass.

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Russia mourns 51 killed in mining disaster, police make arrests – by Tom Balmforth (Reuters – November 26, 2021)

MOSCOW, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Police in Siberia arrested two safety inspectors suspected of criminal negligence on Friday as Russia’s coal mining heartland mourned the deaths of 51 people in one of its worst mine disasters since Soviet times.

Regional governor Sergei Tsivilyov said a methane explosion was the likely cause of Thursday’s accident at the mine near the town of Belovo. The dead included five rescuers sent to bring out dozens of men stuck deep underground, he said.

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‘Ignored for 70 years’: human rights group to investigate uranium contamination on Navajo Nation – by Cody Nelson (The Guardian – October 27, 2021)

Rita Capitan has been worrying about her water since 1994. It was that autumn she read a local newspaper article about another uranium mine, the Crownpoint Uranium Project, getting under way near her home.

Capitan has spent her entire life in Crownpoint, New Mexico, a small town on the eastern Navajo Nation, and is no stranger to the uranium mining that has persisted in the region for decades. But it was around the time the article was published that she began learning about the many risks associated with uranium mining.

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‘We just gave’r’: Exhausted rescuers used double-pulley system to raise trapped Totten miners – by Laim Casey (Sudbury Star – October 7, 2021)

Canadian Press – Danny Taillefer and Jason Leger were in the middle of a first aid refresher course when the phone rang. Shawn Rideout, the chief rescue officer with Ontario Mine Rescue, was on the other end. There were 39 miners stuck underground at Totten Mine near Sudbury, Ont., after the mine shaft was compromised, he said.

There was another way out: climbing a complex warren of ladders at the Vale-owned mine from about a kilometre underground. Taillefer and Leger — mine rescue officers with the non-profit who were based in Timmins, Ont. — were told they were needed for a complicated mission, and instructed to bring several hundred kilograms of rope and other gear.

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Vale miner describes long climb out of Sudbury’s Totten Mine – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Northern Ontario Business/ – September 30, 2021)

At 60 years old, Perry Venedam was one of the oldest miners stranded underground at Vale’s Totten Mine on Sunday after a piece of equipment being slung to the bottom became lodged in the shaft and put the cage lift system out of operation.

Along with 39 other Vale employees, he was forced to use a secondary egress ladder system to ascend out of the mine with the help of mine rescuers, who ensured they were able to climb safely with the help of fall arrest equipment.

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There for you, on your worst day: Ontario Mine Rescue’s Ted Hanley on getting it right when everything goes wrong – by Herb Mathisen (CIM Magazine – September 29, 2021)

Editor’s note: CIM Magazine interviewed Ontario Mine Rescue’s Ted Hanley just weeks before the Totten mine rescue team successfully rescued the 39 miners trapped 4,130 feet underground.

You can’t crystal-ball everything. Ted Hanley, general manager of Ontario Mine Rescue, does his best anyway, as do the staffers and volunteers who work to save miners’ lives when accidents occur.

After all, the 92-year-old organization was created in response to a problem many should have seen coming. In 1928, fire crews were brought in from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to put out a fire at the Hollinger mine in Timmins because no local or provincial firefighters were capable of responding to the underground blaze.

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Totten Mine rescue a ‘really well-oiled’ team effort – by Jim Moodie (Globe and Mail – September 30, 2021)

The escape from Totten this week tested the mettle of more than three-dozen miners, but the task confronting rescue workers was just as daunting. About 90 people altogether were involved in the extraction effort, said Ontario Mine Rescue vice-president Ted Hanley, with Shawn Rideout, the organization’s chief mine rescue officer, charged with overseeing the response.

“It was all hands on deck, and really well-oiled in that there was a day shift and a night shift transition, for the surface operations, at least,” said Hanley. “It was a little more difficult for the underground rescue workers.”

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Update: Totten mine workers all safe after wet, long and arduous climb – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – September 29, 2021)

Imagine scaling 25 fire towers. That’s essentially what underground workers at Totten Mine had to do after their cage was rendered inoperable on Sunday. “That’s a feat,” remarked one official with the United Steelworkers, which represents Vale miners. “It’s a fairly steep incline, usually around 72 degrees, like a ladder standing on the side of your house. So you are using your arms, your legs. It is physically and mentally challenging.”

As of Wednesday morning, all 39 miners who became trapped Sunday afternoon had safely made it to the surface, according to the company. The final four were individuals who needed a bit more help due to health issues or fitness levels, so their exit took longer.

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Black lung, a scourge of the past, still plagues Illinois mines – by Kari Lydersen (Energy News Network – July 14, 2021)


When Robert Cohen learned about black lung disease as a medical student, he assumed it was a relic of the past. “I thought it was something that happened in the times of Émile Zola” — whose 1885 book “Germinal” chronicled the horrors of France’s coal industry. “I didn’t think I’d see it in my practice.”

Almost four decades later, he still treats miners from downstate Illinois, their lungs scarred from breathing coal dust. They trek up to Chicago, sometimes looking out of place in the sleek hospital waiting room on Chicago’s ritzy Gold Coast, where Cohen sees patients.

“The nurses love them, they are so down to earth,” said Cohen, who also founded a black lung clinic at Chicago’s public county hospital, serving miners from around the region, including many who had migrated to Chicago from Appalachia after mines there closed.

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The inspiration for revolution: Unhealthy working conditions and low wages led asbestos miners to launch a strike that left a lasting legacy in Quebec’s history – by Mehanaz Yakub (CIM Magazine – June 21, 2021)

When the clock struck midnight on February 14, 1949, the normally quiet streets of the small town of Asbestos, Quebec, were packed with nearly 2,000 workers from the Jeffrey Mine who were ready to go on strike.

Later that Valentine’s Day morning, 3,000 more miners from the neighbouring Thetford Mine joined the walkout, and what followed was one of the longest and most brutal labour disputes in the province’s history.

Since the late 19th century, Quebec, and especially Asbestos, was the largest producer and exporter of the eponymous mineral. Asbestos was popularly used for insulation, soundproofing and fireproofing, and American and English-Canadian owned companies, such as Johns-Manville, Asbestos Corp., and Flintkote all set up operations around Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

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Indonesia: Danger Lurks At Illegal Gold Mines – by Keisyah Aprilia (Eurasia Review – March 10, 2021)

Risna recounted scrambling to save herself when dirt and rocks came tumbling into a 49-foot deep pit where she and other residents were mining for gold in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province on Feb. 24.

Seven people were killed and dozens more survived that landslide at the illegal mining site in Buranga, a village in Parigi Moutong regency, rescue officials had said.

“We the panners scrambled. Some managed to climb to the top but some were buried,” Risna, a 36-year-old woman who goes by one name, told BenarNews.

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Community rallies to help miner’s family after fatal mudslide at mine near Kamloops – by Tiffany Crawford (Vancouver Sun – February 6, 2021)

Raymond Rosenberg, a miner who died Tuesday after an underground mudslide at New Gold’s New Afton mine, left behind his partner Keisha and four children.

A miner who died earlier this week when a mudslide hit a copper and gold mine near Kamloops left behind his partner and four young children.

Now the community is trying to raise money for the young family after his sudden death. The miner, who has been identified by family as Raymond Rosenberg, is described as a kind and good dad.

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One presumed dead, two injured in accident at B.C. gold mine – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – February 2, 2021)

One person is presumed dead and another two were injured after an accident at a gold mine in interior British Columbia.

New Gold Inc. said in a release that a mud rush occurred at its New Afton underground gold mine west of Kamloops early Tuesday morning and that a contract driller had likely died. Two other individuals suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The Vancouver-based miner has suspended production at the site while an investigation into the accident is being conducted by the RCMP, B.C.’s Ministry of Mines and the company’s internal team.

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Miners rescued: Is China’s mining industry becoming safer? (Associated Press – January 24, 2021)

Eleven workers trapped for two weeks inside a Chinese gold mine were brought safely to the surface on Sunday, a landmark achievement for an industry long-blighted by disasters and high death tolls.

State broadcaster CCTV showed workers being hauled up one-by-one in baskets on Sunday afternoon, their eyes shielded to protect them after so many days in darkness.

Some brought their hands together in gratitude and many appeared almost too weak to stand. They were swiftly covered in coats amid freezing temperatures and loaded into ambulances.

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Bittersweet victory for Sudbury woman who lobbied for dad’s health benefits – by Ron Grech (Sudbury Star – January 21, 2021)

Janice Martell worked on behalf of miners who had been exposed to McIntyre Powder

Janice Martell’s father Jim Hobbs didn’t live to see the fruits of his daughter’s lobbying efforts on behalf of miners who had been exposed to McIntyre Powder.

Hobbs, who worked at a uranium mine in Elliot Lake, developed Parkinson’s disease later in life and passed away in May 2017 at the age of 76.

Three years after his death, the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board acknowledged the “increased risk of Parkinson’s disease in McIntyre Powder-exposed miners.”

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