Archive | Mining Tragedies

South Africa: Understanding the Silicosis Judgment – by Paul Lewis (All Africa.com – May 16, 2016)

http://allafrica.com/

Hundreds of thousands of families could benefit from the class action lawsuit that can now take place. On Friday, Judge Phineas Mojapelo handed down the court’s findings on the landmark silicosis judgment.

In the case of Bongani Nkala and 68 Others v Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd and 31 Others, Mojapelo and two other judges addressed this question: can mineworkers and former mineworkers bring action for damages as a class, against gold mining companies for negligence as a result of which they were exposed to dust that caused silicosis and/or TB.

The litigation could run into billions of rands. All the big mining companies are affected, including Anglo American, Anglogold, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, Randgold, DRDGold, and African Rainbow Minerals. Anglo American has described the case as “without precedent in South African law and indeed in any other jurisdiction in the world”. Continue Reading →

150 miners’ names added to McIntyre powder registry – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – May 14, 2016)

http://www.timminspress.com/

TIMMINS – Janice Martell walked into the room where volunteers had gathered in preparation for a two-day miner’s health clinic starting the next day in Timmins. It was a gratifying and emotional moment for her. There were 50 volunteers from different health organizations and local unions. “It just hit me we’re not alone anymore,” said Martell.

It was a far cry from the way she felt just a few years ago when she reluctantly withdrew her father’s application for Workman’s Compensation on a claim he was suffering neurological effects from repeated exposure to McIntyre Powder aluminum dust while working as a uranium miner Elliot Lake.

“I withdrew my dad’s claim because I realized there was no way to win,” Martell recalled. “When you’re an individual person and you apply for WSIB (Workplace Safety & Insurance Board benefits), you feel so isolated. Continue Reading →

[Mining Fatalities] ‘Never give up fight,’ Sudburians told – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star -April 29, 2016)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Workers should fight to have inquests into mining deaths conducted sooner than four, five, six or even seven years after employees are killed on the job, to spare their families years of extra suffering, says a labour leader.

Families must relive, often in excruciating detail, accounts of how their loved ones died when coroner’s inquests are held. Delaying the inquiries only adds to the agony of families struggling to get on with their lives, according to Rick Bertrand.

The president of United Steelworkers Local 6500 said his union participated in two inquests in the last year, one in May 2015 into the June 2011 deaths of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram at Vale’s Stobie Mine. The other was the inquest held in February into the January 2012 death of Stephen Perry at Vale’s Coleman Mine. Continue Reading →

Criminal charge laid in gold mining death – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 22, 2016)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

A criminal charge against Detour Gold for the June 2015 death of a worker at its Cochrane mine validates United Steelworkers’ campaign for better enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code, says a leader of the union.

Ontario Corporation 1909583, operating as Detour Gold Corp. of Toronto, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death in the June 3 death of Denis Millette, 52. Millette was repairing equipment at Detour Lake Mine when workers found him in medical distress. On-site personnel tended to Millette, but he perished. The investigation concluded he died of acute cyanide intoxication.

A first appearance in court on the criminal charge is scheduled for May 10 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Cochrane. USW Ontario director Marty Warren said he hopes the charge will be prosecuted as soon as possible. Detour Gold Mine is not unionized, Warren pointed out. Continue Reading →

Responsibility For Black Lung Outbreak Being ‘Dodged’: CFMEU – by Sam McKeith (HuffPost Australia – March 4, 2016)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/

The union for coal miners says the screening process for picking up the potentially lethal black lung disease “is a mess” after revelations up to 1,000 Queensland mine workers could have contracted the crippling condition.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) said 6 cases of coal miner’s pneumoconiosis — caused by long-term inhalation of coal dust — were already confirmed in the state, while an unknown number were yet to be diagnosed.

That actual number could reportedly be as high as 1,000.

The union said it was likely many former miners could have gone undiagnosed with the crippling disease because symptoms often developed many years following exposure and long after miners have retired. Continue Reading →

Russian Coal Mine Accident Kills 36, Including 5 Rescuers (Associated Press/New York Times – Februray 28, 2016)

http://www.nytimes.com/

MOSCOW — A methane gas leak at a coal mine in Russia’s far north triggered three explosions that ignited fires and partially collapsed the mine, killing 36 people, officials said Sunday.

The dead included five rescue workers and a mine worker who were killed early Sunday when the third explosion rocked the Severnaya mine in Vorkuta, a town north of the Arctic Circle in the Komi region, the emergency services said.

The first two explosions struck late Thursday, killing four miners and trapping 26 others. Denis Paikin, technical director for mine operator Vorkutaugol, said Sunday that given the level of gas in the mine, the degree of destruction and the trajectory of the fire, which continued to burn, all the missing miners were presumed dead. Continue Reading →

Inquest jury in Sudbury deliberates – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – February 25, 2016)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

The jury in the coroner’s inquest into the death of miner Stephen Perry was presented with a dozen recommendations Wednesday for how to prevent deaths like Perry’s in closing statements at the close of the three-day inquiry.

The four-woman, one-man jury heard joint recommendations from Perry’s family, United Steelworkers and Vale; a USW recommendation to the Ministry of Labour; and six recommendations from Perry’s family.

Perry, 47, was from Corner Brook, NL, and 13 members of his large extended family attended the inquest this week, including his daughter, Brittany Boyd-Perry of Greater Sudbury. Continue Reading →

Witnesses finish testifying at Perry [mining death] inquest – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – February 14, 2016)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Two recommendations in the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review are being studied by a standing committee and, if implemented, would address ground control issues that may have contributed to the Jan. 29, 2012, death of Stephen Perry.

Development miner Perry, 47, died after he was struck by 14 tons of loose rock that slid off the ledge of an opening he was making in a drift at Vale’s Coleman Mine. The rock caused Perry to suffer massive, fatal, crushing head and chest injuries.

The last of more than a dozen witnesses was called Wednesday morning in a mandatory coroner’s inquest into Perry’s death. Provincial mining specialist Jamie Cresswell, with the Ministry of Labour, told the inquest jury of four women and one man that the standing committee is a sub-committee of the Mining Legislative Review Committee. Continue Reading →

Emotional testimony at Sudbury inquest [mining death] – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – February 23, 2016)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

The Vale supervisor in charge of the crew on which Stephen Perry was working Jan. 29, 2012, when he was killed at Coleman Mine fought tears as he told a coroner’s inquest about finding the miner slumped in the basket of the machine he was operating underground.

Michael Johnson received a radio call when he was having lunch about noon in a refuge station that Perry, 47, was in “late” status, meaning he hadn’t been heard from by radio for at least two hours.

Johnson left the lunchroom to go to the heading at 36 West at the 4,215-level of Coleman to look for Perry. When he got there, the air motor of the loader Perry was operating was still running and Perry was slouched in a corner of the basket of the machine. Continue Reading →

Powder in mines linked to disease – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – February 15, 2016)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Intake clinics to be held in Timmins in May could produce data showing a link between a deadly powder used in mines for more than 35 years and the incidence of neurological disease in miners.

United Steelworkers Local 6500 is working with Janice Martell of Elliot Lake on what she calls the McIntyre Powder Project, a campaign she began in 2014. Martell is convinced her father, Jim Hobbs of Massey, contracted Parkinson’s disease from the aluminum dust he breathed while working in Elliot Lake’s uranium mines.

Canisters of aluminum dust, produced by McIntyre Mine in Timmins, were sold to mining companies and used to fog dries or change rooms for miners as well as some areas underground. Continue Reading →

Coal miner black-lung disease resurgence in Queensland to face Senate inquiry – by Jonathan Hair (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – February 11, 2016)

http://www.abc.net.au/

A Senate inquiry will investigate the sudden reappearance of the deadly coal miners’ disease known as black lung.

Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, or black lung, is a condition caused by breathing in excessive levels of coal dust.

Until recently, it was thought to have been eradicated from Australia. But late last year, the ABC revealed the disease had made a comeback.

Six Queensland coal mine workers have recently been diagnosed with the deadly condition.  Several of these victims worked in mines in Queensland’s Bowen Basin. Continue Reading →

Union leader calls for national registry to track asbestos – by Mark Hume (Globe and Mail – January 22, 2016)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/

VANCOUVER — With the number of asbestos-related deaths continuing to climb across Canada, a B.C. union leader is calling for the urgent creation of a national registry of public buildings and marine vessels containing the heat-resistant fibrous mineral that causes cancer.

Asbestos is now recognized as a hazardous material, but workers exposed as long as 40 years ago, when the material was widely used in construction and other industries, continue to be diagnosed with asbestosis and mesothelioma cancer.

In a recent statement, WorkSafeBC said the number of asbestos-related fatalities, which was expected to peak in about 2015, is still climbing, and the high number of deaths may continue to grow for several more years. Continue Reading →

Project documents impacts from aluminum powder in miners – by Lindsay Kelly (Northern Ontario Business – January 21, 2016)

http://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Janice Martell hadn’t even heard of McIntyre Powder until a few years ago. Then someone suggested her father, Jim Hobbs — who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after three decades of working in nickel and uranium mines — could be eligible for compensation. She began to research. And what she discovered was a revelation.

Between 1943 and 1979, underground miners working at operations in Canada and around the world were mandated to inhale fine aluminum dust — called McIntyre Powder by the mining executives who established the practice — at the start of every shift, and cough it up before heading home.

Facing high rates of health claims from miners, executives thought the powder would coat the lungs, working as a preventive measure against silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by breathing in fine silica particles. Continue Reading →

Reckoning in Appalachia: Why Coal Mining Outlaw Don Blankenship’s Conviction Matters – by Jeff Biggers (Huffington Post – December 3, 2015)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

The landmark conviction of former Massey Energy CEO and coal baron Don Blankenship today on a misdemeanor conspiracy charge to violate mine safety laws is a small, but historic first step in holding mining outlaws accountable for their reckless operations.

For the first time in memory for those of us with friends, family, miners and loved ones living amid the toxic fallout of the coal industry, this conviction may only serve as a tiny reckoning of our nation’s complacency with a continual state of violations, but it could begin a new era of justice and reconciliation in the devastated coal mining communities in Appalachia and around the nation. Continue Reading →

Former Massey Energy C.E.O. Guilty in Deadly Coal Mine Blast – by Alan Blinder (New York Times – December 3, 2015)

http://www.nytimes.com/

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Donald L. Blankenship, a titan of the nation’s coal industry whose approach to business was scrutinized and scorned after 29 workers were killed at the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010, was convicted Thursday of a federal charge of conspiring to violate mine safety standards, part of a case that emerged after the accident, the deadliest in mining in the United States in decades.

The verdict reached by a federal jury here made Mr. Blankenship, 65, the most prominent American coal executive ever to be convicted of a charge connected to the deaths of miners. He had been accused of conspiring to violate mine safety regulations, as well as of deceiving investors and regulators; prosecutors secured a conviction on only one of the three charges. Continue Reading →