Deeper gets deadly for workers in aging South Africa gold mines – by Kevin Crowley ( – September 9, 2016)

Fatalities up 20%, first rise since 2008, most in two decades.

Finding minerals in South Africa after more than a century of digging often means going deeper than ever before. Now, it’s also becoming deadlier.

In a country that remains one of the biggest producers of gold, platinum and diamonds, 60 mining deaths this year through August was 20% higher than the same period in 2015, according to the Chamber of Mines, an industry group. The annual tally is heading for its first increase in nine years and the biggest in at least two decades, escalating concerns by both workers and mining executives.

Many of those killed laboured in the searing heat of gold mines that can be more than two miles under ground and traditionally are among the most deadly in South Africa. Various causes have been cited, from falling rock to miners failing to obey safety protocols. But in all cases, that means losses for producers when they are forced to shut mines until government investigations are completed.

Read more

South African mine deaths rise after years of improving safety – by Ed Stoddard and Sisipho Skweyiya (Reuters – August 31, 2016)

PHUTHADITJHABA, South Africa, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Pakiso Matsemela recalls the day he lost the use of his legs, joining the long casualty list of a South African mining industry whose accident rate is again climbing after years of improvement.

“I heard a bang and suddenly I was hit in the back by a rock. It felt like a rush of heat,” the 63-year-old told Reuters, recounting the accident that shattered his spine at the Northam Platinum mine.

That was in May, 2009 and – while of no consolation to the paralysed Matsemela – South Africa’s mines were at the time gradually getting to grips with their appalling safety record.

Read more

Second worker this month injured at Agrium’s Vanscoy potash mine – by Alex MacPherson (Saskatoon StarPhoenix – August 23, 2016)

A miner was airlifted to hospital in Saskatoon Sunday morning after suffering major injuries in the second underground accident this month at Agrium Inc.’s Vanscoy potash mine.

“He had serious injuries and had some surgery (Sunday) and he’s recovering from that surgery right now,” said Todd Steen, general manager of the mine, which is located about 30 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon.

Details about what caused the accident will be available when an investigation is complete, but it is “not related” to the Aug. 8 incident that led to the death of 29-year-old Chad Wiklun, Steen said. “It’s very unfortunate that we had another incident here, and we want to make sure we don’t have any more, and we want to make sure we get to the bottom of these.”

Read more

‘Remembering the Marikana massacre is critical’NORTH WEST – by Jonisayi Maromo (Independent Online – August 15, 2016)

Marikana – Loud music echoed from a giant stage erected at the Marikana koppie in the Nkaneng informal settlement near Rustenburg on Monday, as preparations for the fourth commemorations of the Marikana tragedy were being finalised.

A few metres away, community members sang along to the loud music as they went on their daily chores in the shacks making up the Nkaneng informal settlement. Maritha Mabasa said in August 2012, she had recently moved to Marikana, from the Free State, when the wage dispute degenerated into chaos.

“What happened there remains vivid in my mind. Who would forget the murder of more than 30 people in one day? And my heart is sore,” said the mother of three, pointing at the koppie.

Read more

Exclusive: Jharkhand to crush ‘mica mafia’ by legalising mines to stop child worker deaths – by Nita Bhalla (Reuters India – August 8, 2016)

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Authorities in Jharkhand will crack down on “mica mafia” by starting to legalise some mica mines, a senior government official said, after a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed the cover-up of child deaths in illegal mining.

A three-month investigation in the mica-producing state of Jharkhand found that a flourishing black market had resulted in at least seven children being killed since June, mining for the prized mineral which adds the sparkle to make-up and car paint.

But the deaths went unreported as victims’ families and mine operators feared it could end the illegal mining of mica, the only source of income in some of India’s poorest regions.

Read more

Global firms beef up investigations of Indian mica suppliers after exposé on child deaths – by Nita Bhalla and Rina Chandran (Daily Mail/Reuters – August 4, 2016)

DELHI/MUMBAI, India, Aug 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – M ajor global companies buying the mineral mica from India vowed on Thursday to beef up inspections of their suppliers for child labour after a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation revealed children were dying in illegal mines.

A three-month investigation in the mica-producing states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh found at least seven children have been killed since June mining for mica, the valued mineral that puts a sparkle in make-up and car paint.

These deaths, feared to be just the tip of the iceberg, have gone unreported as victims’ impoverished families and mine operators do not want to end the illegal mining in abandoned mines and protected forests – often their only source of income.

Read more

Thomson Reuters Foundation Investigation | Child workers trapped in mica mines – by Nita Bhalla, Anuradha Nagaraj and Rina Chandran (Thomson Reuters Foundation/Hindustan Times – August 3, 2016)

In the depths of India’s illegal mica mines, where children as young as five work alongside adults, lurks a dark, hidden secret — the cover-up of child deaths with seven killed in the past two months, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation has revealed.

Investigations over three months in the major mica producing states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh found child labour rife, with small hands ideal to pick and sort the valued mineral that puts the sparkle in cosmetics and car paint.

But interviews with workers and local communities discovered children were not only risking their health by working in abandoned “ghost” mines off official radars, but they were dying in the unregulated, crumbling mines, with seven killed since June.

Read more

Coal Mine Disaster: An International Perspective – by John Kinnear (Crowsnest Pass – July 20, 2016)

A special committee in Sparwood is now hard at work planning the commemoration of the last major mine disaster to occur in the Crowsnest Pass/Elk Valley area. Like Hillcrest, this will be a major effort next spring to permanently acknowledge the loss of those fifteen men at Balmer North on April 3, 1967 and also every coal miner ever lost in the Michel/Natal area.

As far as disasters go the 1914 Hillcrest Disaster stands as the date in Canadian history when the worst loss of life in a coal mine occurred. But Canada is not alone in this regard; when it comes to tragic mining losses our numbers pale in comparison when one looks worldwide. This comparison was a painful one to research but will help the reader put our losses into an international perspective.

On April 26, 1942 the world’s worst underground mine disaster happened in Japanese-occupied Manchuria when 1,549 Chinese miners died at the Benxihu Colliery.

Read more

Glencore impeded probe, ministry alleges – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – July 21, 2016)

Representatives for Glencore Canada Corporation are scheduled to appear in court Aug. 27 on two charges in connection with the investigation into the death of a Sudbury miner.

Richard Pigeau, 54, who had more than 20 years’ experience working underground, was killed Oct. 20, 2015, by a piece of equipment in the nickel mine operated by Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, a Glencore company.

The Sudbury Star has learned that two charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act were laid against Sudbury INO’s parent company June 22 in relation to a warrant issued against the company April 18. The charges were laid by the Ministry of Labour following an investigation.

Read more

Mining houses pledge support for fight against HIV/Aids – by David Oliveira ( – July 18, 2016)

JOHANNESBURG ( – Major miners Anglo American and Harmony Gold have pledged their support for the United Nations’ HIV/Aids organisation UNAids’ global #ProTEST HIV campaign.

The campaign is aimed at positively contributing to the goal of ending HIV/Aids by 2030, by highlighting the importance of voluntary HIV testing, which is a critical intervention to help link care and support for those infected with HIV and other prevention programmes.

On the occasion of the twenty-first International AIDS Conference, being held at the Durban International Convention Centre, in KwaZulu-Natal, Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani on Monday said the company’s partnership with UNAids would assist in achieving the first HIV-free generation by 2030.

Read more

Light at the end of the tunnel for silicosis victims – by Liesl Peyper (MiningMx – July 14, 2016)

IT has been a difficult year for the mining industry insofar as health and safety has been concerned, but the tide is turning for a large number of mineworkers and their families who are set to receive compensation for silicosis.

In March this year, some 4,365 claimants who sued Anglo American SA and AngloGold Ashanti for the lung diseases silicosis and silico-tuberculosis, reached a landmark settlement with the two mining companies.

In accordance with the settlement, a compensation amount of R454m will be paid to the Qhubeka Trust for distribution among the claimants who meet the criteria for payment. This was the first large-scale settlement of silicosis litigation in South Africa.

Read more

Clinic studying link between McIntyre Powder and workplace disease – by Lindsay Kelly(Northern Ontario Business – July 13, 2016)

Can a link be made between aluminum powder administered to miners over more than three decades and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)?

Advocates are hoping a growing body of anecdotal research will demonstrate a link between aluminum and occupational disease and force more scientific study on the subject.

In May, Timmins played host to an intake clinic designed to catalogue the experiences, job histories and illnesses of miners who have worked in Northern Ontario mines and were mandated to inhale a finely ground aluminum dust called McIntyre Powder as part of their employment.

Read more

Miners recall use of black powder during employment – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – July 12, 2016)

Danny Hway vividly remembers the impact McIntyre Powder had on his father, Nicholas, who worked at Timmins’ McIntyre Mine for 47 years. At home, his dad wouldn’t speak of it, but he didn’t need to. His grim appearance at the end of every shift did the talking for him.

“He’d come home and his hands were black all the time, and any exposed skin was black,” Danny recalled. “He’d be coughing all the time and, blowing his nose, it was black all the time. He didn’t really want to talk about it — (that’s) life, right?”

Nicholas was one of thousands of miners across the North who were required to inhale the finely ground aluminum dust as a condition of their employment. But for him the stakes were higher than for most: preparing the powder for dissemination was his job.

Read more