Archive | Mining Labour Issues and History – Sudbury and Global

Marikana: death and fear still stalk platinum belt – by Theto Mahlakoana (Business Day – September 27, 2017)

The eyes of SA and the world have turned away from the platinum belt, returning there only when the Marikana massacre is commemorated every August. Yet mine workers there are being continually snuffed out.

Union leaders, fathers, sons and brothers are being gunned down by unknown assailants for reasons that may never surface. Law enforcement authorities have not paid special attention to the region to solve the crimes, despite several pleas by civil society and political formations.

In the past two weeks, the bodies of four regional leaders of the Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union (Amcu) were found riddled with bullets at the Lonmin and Impala mines. Continue Reading →

Psychology of mine safety – by Karen McKinley (Northern Ontario Business – September 22, 2017)

Director of mining, Ontario Operations, Vale Canada Limited delivers controversial presentation on reality of zero harm policies in mining industry

His presentation started with a disclaimer that his views may not represent those of Vale Canada Limited, even joking he may not work for them after what he had to say about zero harm policies in the mining industry.

Alistair Ross, director of mining, Ontario Operations, delivered a comprehensive presentation at the first general membership meeting of 2017 of the Canadian Institute of Mining on Sept. 21 to a packed house at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury.

It focused on the policies that are meant to eliminate injuries and deaths in mining workplaces actually end up becoming harmful policies by adding too much structure and setting impossible goals. Continue Reading →

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

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 →

Mine health, safety icons mourned – Staff (Sudbury Star – May 30, 2017)

Two men connected to the fight for better health and safety in Ontario’s mines are being remembered today.

France Gélinas, the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt, stood up in the provincial legislature on Monday to pay tribute to Jean Gagnon, who helped hundreds of fellow Sudbury miners and their survivors battle for compensation benefits, while advocating for the health and safety of workers and victims of industrial disease.

Gagnon died May 1 in Sturgeon Falls. He was 90.

“Jean dedicated over 60 years of his life fighting for health and safety and compensation for his fellow sintering plant workers and their families, all victims of an industrial disease that was only recognized because of his persistence and his determination,” Gelinas told the legislature. Continue Reading →

South Africa: 1 700 Workers Start Strike 2.4km Below Harmony Mine (All Africa – January 12, 2017)

About 1 700 miners refused to return to the surface of Harmony Gold’s [JSE:HAR] Kusasalethu mine in the West Rand on Wednesday, with the miner saying they have embarked on an illegal sit-in.

“Harmony Gold confirms that around 1 700 employees are participating in an illegal sit-in at the company’s Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville,” the company said in a statement.

“The sit-in started on Wednesday, January 11 when employees chose not to return to surface at the end of the morning shift. “No formal demands have been made by the participating employees. Continue Reading →

Ontario Labour minister touts mining changes – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – January 13, 2017)

Ontario launched a mining health and safety review in the wake of tragedy, but provincial labour minister Kevin Flynn had a good-news story to tell during his stop in Sudbury on Thursday. Flynn visited the Nickel City to mark the implementation of new requirements to improve health and safety of workers in mines, which became effective on Jan. 1.

“Today was really an announcement of what we have been able to accomplish so far and we’re seeing the fruits of what was done in the mining review a few years back, when everybody had a sense of optimism, like ‘It looks like we’ve done a good job here; let’s start implementing the recommendations,’ ” Flynn, the MPP for Oakville, said on Thursday afternoon, shortly before speaking at a Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce lunch.

New requirements the minister highlighted on Thursday include: Continue Reading →

Labour honours Sudbury heroes – by Carol Mulligan(Sudbury Star – September 3, 2016)

Two Sudbury labour heroes have been inducted into the 2016 Ontario Federation of Labour Honour Roll, just in time for Labour Day. Nickel Belt New Democrat MPP France Gelinas announced the names of the inductees this week, commending both men for their efforts to improve the lives of working people.

Homer Seguin, who died in April 2013 at 79, continues to be a legend in the labour movement, said Gelinas. “So many sick and injured workers, as well as their spouses and families, were able to get compensation because of his activism.

“Every workplace in Ontario is safer because of Mr. Seguin, I miss him very much,” said Gelinas. Seguin was a former president of United Steelworkers Local 6500 and long-time staff representative with United Steelworkers. He is well known for his work to better working conditions for people in Elliot Lake’s uranium mines. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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

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)

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 →

[Ontario] Province seeks input on proposals stemming from mining review – by Ben Leeson (Sudbury Star – November 28, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Ontario Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn says the provincial government intends to act on all recommendations by the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review Final Report, beginning with a series of proposed amendments presented for consultation on Thursday.

Proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Ac including the introduction of new requirements for mines and mining plants to conduct risk assessments and have formal traffic management programs, the strengthening of existing requirements for water management and ground control, and the updating of training requirements for surface diamond drill operators.

“What I think it is is proof positive that all the work that went into the mining review was time well-spent,” Flynn said. Continue Reading →

[Sudbury mining] Death casts pall over conference – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – October 25, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The death last week of a miner at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South Mine cast a shadow Sunday evening over the start of an international conference on mining safety which is now being held in Greater Sudbury – and in Canada for the first time ever.

Not only was a minute of silence observed by the speakers and more than 60 delegates on hand at the Vale Cavern at Science North, but the death of Richard Pigeau also drew mention in several speakers’ addresses, including one by Ontario Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn.

“Ontario is one of the safest jurisdictions in all of America in which to work and we know the mining industry continues to be one of the safest industries,” he said. “But it was brought home to us workers’ lives can be lost in a matter of seconds … It simply did not have to happen: Every workplace fatality is preventable. People in this room know that. People buy into that. And we need to spread the message.”

Pigeau, 54, who had more than 20 years of mining experience, was killed when he was struck by a piece of equipment on Oct. 20, according to the Ministry of Labour. The mine was shut down for three days as the investigation was conducted. Continue Reading →

GroundUp: Anglo American joins the silicosis fray – by Pete Lewis (Daily Maverick South Africa – October 21, 2015)

Lawyers for gold mining companies ERPM, DRD and Anglo American added their voices on Tuesday to those of their colleagues fighting the silicosis action in the South Gauteng High Court.

Lawyers for the miners are asking the three judges in the court to certify a class action which would enable them to claim damages from the mining companies as a class, instead of each sick former miner having to do so individually.

The application includes a request that 59 mineworkers who have silicosis and/or TB should be accepted as representatives of the wider class of miners affected by the disease and the dependents of deceased miners.

Lawyers for the mining companies are arguing that the class action should not be certified by the court.

Counsel for ERPM and DRD, Advocate Bruce Leech, said the Constitution acknowledged the right of people to join together in class actions in order to get access to the courts if they could not take action individually. Continue Reading →

GroundUp Op-Ed: Will South Africa’s gold miners get justice? – by Marcus Low (Daily Maverick South Africa – October 12, 2015)

The landmark silicosis class action lawsuit in South Africa has thrown up some similarities between the history of the country’s gold mines and the violent history of the rubber trade in the Congo. Over decades, South Africa’s gold mines systematically exposed their mostly poor and black workers to dangerous levels of silica dust knowing it would kill them.

In King Leopold’s Ghost, the historian Adam Hochschild uncovers the horrors committed in the Belgian Congo in the years before and after 1900. It is a history of slavery, murder and mutilation – anyone who’s seen the pictures of piles of cut-off hands cannot but be horrified by it.

Rather than just focusing on “the horror”, Hochschild zooms in on the courageous individuals who stood up against this cruelty. These are people like George Washington Williams, a black American journalist who travelled to the Congo in the late 1880s, and ED Morel, who dedicated much of his life to exposing the atrocities to the British public and to changing public opinion.

King Leopold’s Ghost recognises and bears witness to the atrocities in the Congo. Atrocities like these are too easily forgotten, too easily reduced to boring facts and figures. Continue Reading →

Sudbury study to examine mental health of miners – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – July 24, 2015)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

A research project on the mental health of workers in the mining industry is exactly the type of study Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn would like to see more of in Ontario.

The three-year, $400,000 study, funded by Vale Ltd., is a partnership among the mining company, United Steelworkers and Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH).

The goal of the study, called Mining Mental Health, is to collect information to develop strategies to promote strong mental health among workers in Vale’s Ontario operations.

Flynn paid his first visit to a mine earlier this year when he went underground at Vale’s Coleman Mine.

Travelling 5,000 feet below surface “was quite the experience for a city kid,” Flynn told about 100 people in the lobby of Laurentian’s Ben Avery building Thursday. Continue Reading →