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

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

https://www.bloomberg.com/

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)

https://www.reuters.com/

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)

https://www.reuters.com/

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 →

Ontario pledges $1M to help ailing miners exposed to toxic dust – by Sara Mojtehedzadeh (Toronto Star – October 11, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

The Ontario government will commit $1 million in funding to assist Ontario miners who believe years of exposure to toxic aluminum dust left them with debilitating neurological diseases, the Star has learned

The Ministry of Labour is expected to announce Wednesday that it will finance the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) to assess miners exposed to the substance known as McIntyre Powder establish whether their health conditions are linked to its use, and make compensation claims for work-related illnesses where possible.

But miners who already made claims under previous guidelines will not be eligible to have their cases reopened. As previously reported by the Star, thousands of miners across northern Ontario’s gold and uranium mines were routinely forced to inhale the powder, which was sold as a miracle antidote to lung disease. Continue Reading →

A Deadly Disease That Strikes Coal Miners Has Returned in Australia – by Perry Williams (Bloomberg News – September 8, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Claustrophobia never bothered Keith Stoddart as he sheared coal from the wall of a long, narrow and dusty tunnel hundreds of meters underground in northeastern Australia. Now, racked by a progressive, deadly lung disease, the 68-year-old gets panicked by pangs of shortness of breath.

His illness had been absent since the mid 1980s in Australia, the world’s top coal-exporting country. At least, that’s what records showed until May 2015, when mine-veterans like Stoddart began presenting in doctors’ rooms with an irreversible scourge from a bygone era: black lung disease.

Twenty-five cases of so-called coal workers’ pneumoconiosis have since been confirmed in Stoddart’s home state of Queensland, government records show. Many of them were missed by routine medical screening, and all of them point to weaknesses in modern mining technologies and dust controls that the government is now trying to fix. Continue Reading →

Glencore fined $200,000 In Sudbury man’s death – by Staff (Sudbury Star – August 29, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Glencore Canada Corporation has been fined $200,000 for the death of a Sudbury man almost two years ago.

The man, Richard Pigeau, 54, was killed at Nickel Rim South Mine when he was run over by a vehicle. The incident took place on Oct. 20, 2015, at Glencore’s base metal mine near Sudbury, which produces nickel and copper ore, the Minister of Labour said in a release.

“A worker was operating a machine known as a load haul dump (LHD) used in the underground operation to move broken rock or ore,” the ministry said. “While operating the LHD on a ramp, it appeared the bucket of the vehicle made contact with a wall on the right. “The LHD continued to move; the worker was ejected from the operator’s compartment and was run over by one of the vehicle’s tires. The worker died from the injuries.” Continue Reading →

No cause found between McIntyre Powder exposure and neurological disease in miners, says WSIB – by Staff (Northern Ontario Business – August 17, 2017)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Organization promises further study to explore potential links in Northern miners

A WSIB-commissioned review of scientific research into the connection between aluminum powder exposure in the workplace and adverse health effects in humans has failed to find a link between exposure and illness.

On Aug. 17, the WSIB issued a release with the findings of the review — titled Systematic Review of Occupational Aluminum Exposure and Adverse Health Conditions — which Intrinsik Corp. launched earlier this year. “Overall, the systematic review and the statistical analysis conducted showed that the question of health risks from workplace aluminum exposure is complicated,” reads the study’s summary.

“The findings across the literature were inconsistent. Epidemiological studies have failed to establish consistent associations or clear exposure response relationships between workplace aluminum exposure and nervous system-related diseases, cognitive outcomes, lung function outcomes, and other negative outcomes.” Continue Reading →

Sudbury mine needed culture change: supervisor – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – July 21, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Shortly after Mark Aubrey arrived at First Nickel Inc.’s Lockerby Mine in 2012 to take on the job of operations manager, he had a big surprise waiting for him: a Ministry of Labour compliance order that highlighted numerous issues such as dust control and road building issues at the nickel and copper mine that needed addressing. That was when Aubrey said he realized a major culture shift was needed at the mine’s management level.

“We fixed the supervisor training,” Aubrey recalled. “That included spending time with our ground control people … every supervisor at one point or another, went through that process. I was happy with what we were able to put in place, the supervising guys, even health and safety guys, our safety people. We took the steps to put guidelines in place to keep us out of trouble with the Ministry of Labour.

“Again, it’s not doing it for the Ministry of Labour, but doing it for ourselves. There were individuals within the management group who didn’t share the same degree, the same importance, of how a worksite should be looked after. We took a leading role. We didn’t rely on someone else to hold our hand, so to speak.” Continue Reading →

Supervisor couldn’t track Sudbury mine’s ‘bump’ — trial – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – July 20, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

The First Nickel Inc. shift supervisor on duty the night a fall of ground at the company’s Lockerby Mine that killed two men was aware there had been a major “bump” or movement of ground at the mine the preceding dayshift.

But, Wade Johnson said Wednesday, he had no idea where the bump had occurred because the mine captain who briefed the night shift team before they started work did not know either. That was because the ground control team had gone home for the day and because no microseismic monitoring charts were available to peruse and isolate the location of the bump, Johnson said.

“There should be a chart: we should know exactly where the bump was,” the veteran miner told the ongoing Ontario Court of Justice trial of First Nickel Inc. and Taurus Drilling. “When I worked at a mine in Lively, there was a refuge station you could see (the charts) and know where the bump was.” Continue Reading →

Silicosis’s toxic legacy offers deadly lessons for today – by Mica Jorgenson (The Conversation – July 6, 2017)

https://theconversation.com/

“His cough is loose … considerable amount of thick, black expectoration … cannot run; in the past six months has lost 16 pounds in weight … has no appetite in the morning and feels shaky and dizzy … diagnosis: Extensive bilateral fibrosis due to silicosis.”

So reads the medical report on a Finnish miner in the October 1924 volume of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. He had been working at the Porcupine gold camp near Timmins, Ont., for nine years on the day of his examination. The mining boom, begun in 1909, attracted miners, geologists and investment from around the world. But the rock held a deadly secret. When subjected to blasting and grinding, it produced tiny needle-like silica shards which shredded human lungs, cutting working lives tragically short.

A century later, silicosis is making headlines in Canada, thanks largely to the work of Janice Martell. Inspired by her miner father Jim Hobbs, Martell began to document health issues associated with a silicosis “cure” made from aluminum called McIntyre Powder. This spring Hobbs died after a 16-year battle with Parkinson’s disease possibly related to aluminum exposure. Continue Reading →

Memorial marks 1984 Falconbridge tragedy and all workplace deaths – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – June 20, 2017)

https://www.sudbury.com/

2015 death of Richard Pigeau at Nickel Rim South especially raw for speakers

On June 20, 1984, a seismic event measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale struck Falconbridge Mine, leading to the deaths of four miners — Sulo Korpela, Richard Chenier, Daniel Lavallee and Wayne St. Michel. Every year since the tragedy, Mine Mill Local 598/Unifor has held a Workers’ Memorial Day gathering on June 20.

This year’s service was held at the union’s campground on Richard Lake, and featured a long list of guest speakers, including politicians, union and company officials and labour community representatives.

Although specifically commemorating the 1984 Falconbridge mining disaster, the event also remembers other workers who have died at the company, which, as a result of several buyouts, now goes by the name Glencore. It also honours the lives of all those who have lost their lives due to on-the-job accidents or industrial disease in Sudbury and around the world. Continue Reading →

Search for Trapped Chile Miners Intensifies as Deadline Looms – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – June 15, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The search for two men buried in a Patagonian gold mine may not be attracting the kind of global attention as the miraculous rescue of 33 miners in Chile seven years ago, but it’s no less dramatic. To begin with, time is running out.

Enrique Ojeda and Jorge Sanchez, trapped in the Mandalay Resources Corp.-owned mine since June 9, have an estimated three days of air left. And while the depths are less than the San Jose mine, technically the rescue is more difficult, said Felipe Matthews, a geologist who advised the Chilean Mining Ministry in 2010 and is also working on this search.

The hope is that the two found their way into a refuge after a section of the mine collapsed and tunnels flooded with water from a nearby lagoon. “If I’m here it’s because I have faith that we can achieve a similar miracle than the one we had in San Jose,” Matthews said Thursday in a telephone interview. Continue Reading →

Miner who triggered McIntyre Powder study dies – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – May 30, 2017)

http://www.timminspress.com/

ELLIOT LAKE – A retired miner whose deteriorating health triggered a campaign to investigate the residual effects of McIntyre Powder has died. Jim Hobbs passed away May 24 at the Espanola Nursing Home at the age of 76.

His daughter Janice Martell began an effort to link neurological diseases in former gold and uranium miners to the aluminum dust they were forced inhale by their employers after her father developed Parkinson’s disease.

Hobbs worked at the Quirke II uranium mine in Elliot Lake where the powder was used extensively. Martell’s inability to get workers’ compensation for her father prompted her in 2014 to start up the McIntyre Powder Project, which is a research initiative. Continue Reading →

Ceremony marks 25th anniversary of Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia – by Michael MacDonald (Toronto Star – May 10, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

There were 26 coal miners in the final hours of a four-day shift at the Westray mine in Plymouth, N.S., when a coal seam spit a jet of methane gas that somehow ignited. The explosion killed every man in the mine and tore off the metal roof at the pit entrance.

CANADIAN PRESS – NEW GLASGOW, N.S.—Twenty-five years after she lost her husband to one of Nova Scotia’s worst coal mining disasters, Darlene Dollimont-Svenson still finds it difficult talking about the life they once shared.

“He was a fabulous man, but I don’t know what to say about that because it’s 25 years later and you have all these memories, and one doesn’t really know if the memories are glorified fantasies or reality,” she said, drawing a deep breath and pausing.

Thirty-six-year-old Adonis Dollimont and 25 other miners were in the final hours of a four-day shift at the Westray mine in Plymouth, N.S., when a coal seam spit a jet of methane gas that somehow ignited. Continue Reading →

[Nova Scotia Coal Mining] Westray tragedy to be marked, 25 years later: ‘Pure greed that took lives’ – by Michael MacDonald (Winnipeg Free Press – May 9, 2017)

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/

NEW GLASGOW, N.S. – When the Westray coal mine opened in northern Nova Scotia in 1991, Glenn Martin was lucky enough to land a well-paying job underground that was supposed to last 15 years.

However, he soon learned the mine under Plymouth, N.S., was not a safe place to work. He promised himself he would quit as soon as he had earned enough money to put new siding on his home.

“That mine was a godsend to him,” said his brother, Allen. “He wanted to fix up his house. That was his main goal … But it didn’t take long for him to realize that things were not right.” Continue Reading →