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    Working in Iran’s Mines Comes at the Price of Death

    October 24, 2019

    By Jubin Katiraie

    Working in Iran’s mines is a hard and onerous job. It is dangerous and harmful to the health of the miners. Most countries try to increase confidence through strict enforcement of safety standards, reducing the threats of such work as much as possible.

    They also try to ensure the laborers are afforded proper insurance and good health care and mental security and reassurance.

    But when it comes to Iran everything is different. The Iranian government not only does not try to provide better working conditions for the laborers, but it also answers their demands with forced expulsion and the cut off of their income. Worse still, it answers them with public lashes for protesting over their miserable conditions.

    Latest victims: Tabas miners

    In the Saman Kavosh mine because of the collapsing of the tunnel two workers of the destruction section were stuck under the debris and died.

    The Saman Khavosh is a small company and contractor which is operating under the umbrella of the Imidro company. The administration of the Imidro company is one of the elements of the government which is belonging to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s faction who was in the former governor of the Boyer-Ahmad County.

    However, Saeed Samadi, Secretary of the Coal Society of Iran, said that the culprit of this accident is not the Saman Khavosh, but the company Impasko. (Rouzegar Madan website, 17 October 2019)

    Considering that the Impasko company belongs one hundred percent to the government, in all likelihood, the main culprit for this accident is the government itself.

    This person also has confessed that there is much disarray in the Saman Khavosh mine so that a while ago a worker lost his leg. (Rouzegar Madan website, 17 October 2019)

    By a strange confession, Davoud Sharaki who is the head of the Department of Industry, Mining and Trade in South Khorasan province said in an interview with the Young Journalists Club, affiliated to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and republished by the Rouzegar Madan website that despite these accidents, South Khorasan province has the lowest rate of accidents between all the mines in the country.

    Asghar Masoudi, a member of the Iranian parliament, said: “The rules of the mine are not applying. The rights of the deprived miners are just dust and chagrin.” (State-run news agency ISNA, 14 October 2019)


    Look at past casualty statistics

    – Death of a 45-year-old mine worker, and injury of another worker in chromite mine collapse in Goji village, Zaveh city, Khorasan Razavi Province (state-run news agency ILNA, 12 October 2019)
    -The death of two well workers in Pachenar Qazvin province (state-run news agency Rokna, 12 October 2019)
    -The death of two well workers in Lushan Guilan (ILNA, 11 October)
    – Death of an ore worker in the Sanddak village of Kouhsorkh district of Kashmar city (HRANA, 28 September 2019)

    -Kerman’s “Water Nile” mine collapse; the death of one worker and injury to seven others (Tasnim, 16 September 2019)
    -Mine explosion in Chamestan and death of two workers (Fars news agency, 8 September 2019)
    – Damaghan Chalryz mine collapse with one dead and one injured (Mashregh, 7 September 2019)
    – Death of a “Posht Bireh” mine worker in Islamabad on 31 August (HRANA, 2 September 2019)
    – Death of a worker in the “Yellow check” mine in the village of Isaacvand Hersin (ILNA, 19 August 2019)
    -Sarmak Malayer mine explosion; the death of two workers and injury of another worker (IRNA, 7 July 2019)
    -Mine explosion in Suadkuh and death of two workers (Tasnim, 20 June 2019)
    – Death of a worker at the Daysin Kalay lavitch Coal Mine in Noor city (ILNA, 18 June 2019)
    Damaghan’s Tazareh mine collapse; the death of two workers and injury of another worker (Tasnim, 13 June 2019)
    -Fire at the Savadkouh mine with 11 Injuries (Tabnak, 21 April 2019)
    – Raver Kerman province mine collapse with one dead and two injured (Tasnim, 31 March 2019)

    Russia dam collapse at Siberia gold mine kills 15

    October 24, 2019

    At least 15 people have died and 13 others are missing after a dam collapse at a gold mine in Siberia.

    The dam, on the Seiba river in the region of Krasnoyarsk, burst after heavy rain on Saturday, flooding cabins where workers lived.

    Russia’s health ministry said 14 miners were taken to hospital, including three with severe injuries.

    A criminal investigation has been opened over allegations the dam violated safety regulations.

    “The hydro-technical facility was self-constructed and, I believe, all rules I can and cannot think of were violated,” Yuri Lapshin, the head of the Krasnoyarsk regional government, was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered officials to provide assistance and investigate the reasons behind the accident, his spokesman has said.

    Several small cabins, where workers are thought to have lived, were swept away by the flood waters, the Interfax news agency reported.

    The mine was in a remote location about 160km (100 miles) south of the city of Krasnoyarsk, itself some 4,000km (2,500 miles) east of Moscow.

    Dozens of emergency workers have been searching for the missing and have been helping the injured.

    People are being evacuated from a nearby village of Kuragino because of the raised water levels from the Seiba River and local flooding, Russian media reported.

    Source : BBC

    Article of Unwary in the coalmine (Pakistan)

    October 24, 2019
    Article on Dangerous and Unsafe Mining in Pakistan

    Unwary in the coalmine by Hussain Ahmad Siddiqui

    Mining is globally recognised as among the most dangerous and unsafe industries for workers; more so in Pakistan where mining operations remain obsolete and safety measures negligible, if any. There are extensive reserves of mineral deposits in Pakistan including coal, copper, iron ore, gold, rock salt, and construction minerals like limestone. At present 52 minerals and elements are under exploitation in the country.

    Mining is globally recognised as among the most dangerous and unsafe industries for workers; more so in Pakistan where mining operations remain obsolete and safety measures negligible, if any. There are extensive reserves of mineral deposits in Pakistan including coal, copper, iron ore, gold, rock salt, and construction minerals like limestone. At present 52 minerals and elements are under exploitation in the country.

    There is a very high risk of death and injuries from explosions, cave-ins and equipment accidents in the mines and quarries, with most fatal and non-fatal accidents occurring in coalmines across the country. Not surprisingly, these accidents and incidents are not properly reported or recorded and there are no reliable statistics available at the government level either. According to the miners’ welfare organisation, Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation, affiliated with the Industrial Global Union in Geneva, an average of two-hundred miners die every year in work-related accidents in Pakistan.

    In the first seven months of this year as many as 94 workers were killed in various mines. In mineral-rich Balochistan alone, where coalmining activities are in progress in six areas, on average at least 120 workers die each year. On July 14, eleven coalminers were trapped inside the main access tunnel of a coalmine in Quetta, and only one survived. In April, four miners were suffocated to death in a coalmine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The year 2018 was the deadliest year for the coalminers. Three workers were killed in a methane gas blast at Chamalang coalmines, Balochistan. On January 11, two coalminers died after a mine collapsed in Dukki district of the province. Again, on January 13, three workers were killed in an accident in a state-owned coalmine in the province. On May 6, twenty-three workers died in two accidents in Marwar near Quetta and Sor-Range coalmines of Balochistan. In a major accident nine coalminers were killed and another four injured when a coalmine collapsed in Darra Adam Khel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in September 2018. Darra Adam Khel near Peshawar has recently emerged as a coal mining hub with a daily output of around 1,000 tons of coal, having hundreds of coalmines that employ some 15,000 miners. In all cases other mine-workers too sustained serious injuries. Unfortunately, such horrific accidents resulting in death, injury and destitution to workers continue unabated.

    Currently, over 8,000 million tons of coal is extracted worldwide. Coal is mined by two methods -surface (or open-cast) mining and underground (or deep) mining, depending largely on the geology of the coal deposit and economic conditions. Pakistan, with some of the largest coal reserves in the world, mostly employs manual and semi-mechanised mining practices. Annual coal extraction is around 3.5 million tons, which is used in brick kilns, cement industry and power generation. More than 100,000 workers are employed in 400 coalmines located in remote, isolated areas.

    Coalmine accidents occur due to a variety of factors. Firstly, mining practices are generally outdated if not primitive, and thus operating conditions are deplorable, particularly in informal sector. This is applicable to both privately-owned and state-owned coalmines, whether small or medium, whereas large mines such as at Thar coalfields are exceptions. These small and medium coalmines operate on contractual and subcontractual basis, whereas many small coalmines are running illegally. Secondly, there is complete absence of safety measures and security precautions. Safety standards are widely ignored in coalmines leading to various tragic incidents.

    Miners dig the coal from underneath up to 2,500 meters. Accidents are common. The miners suffocate to death due to poisonous carbon monoxide as air ventilation is lacking or inadequate. Coalmines also produce methane gas which is highly inflammable and presents the risk of explosion. Average emission and prevalence of such gases exceed the internationally permissible limits. Risk of accidents therefore multiplies when unskilled and untrained miners work without safety protocols. Only safety lamps are usually available, while gas detectors, if any, are unreliable for having never been calibrated after purchase.

    Thirdly, even the basic facilities, accessories and equipment, which reduce exposure to the risks, are not made available. The accessories for personal protection of miners include safety hats, protective clothing, respirators, ear protectors and ventilation system. Rescue of victims have been difficult in almost all accidents in the absence of well-equipped emergency response teams. There are no investigations of accidents, and practically no compensation to the workers or their families. In addition, the coalminers are exposed to serious occupational respiratory diseases like asthma, bronchitis and lung cancer, gastro and hepatitis, besides psychological disorders. The dilemma of coalminers is to work at very low wages, under subhuman conditions and without taking safety measures.

    Lastly but most importantly, regulating and inspection of mines mechanism is poor and ineffective. The prevalent laws are obsolete, outdated and non-conforming to international practices. Mines Act 1923 is still applicable, but, ironically even the safety measures described therein are not followed today. Coal Mines Regulations 1926 has been revised in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently, but remains a draft. Labour laws are not being enforced effectively by the provincial governments anyways.

    Our mining industry is termed as the most unregulated industry in the world as mines and their operations are not under any active government supervision. Many cases of violations are registered against owners but only minor penalties, ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000, are imposed as per rules. Mineral policies formulated from time to time are just paperwork. There are always promises of developing mine safety and health plans in each province but without any physical action plan. There is a strong need to make the corresponding institutions effective, and enforce all the prevalent labour laws in letter and spirit.

    In recent years, the promotion of occupational safety and health in the mining sector has assumed greater relevance and significance worldwide. International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Underground Coalmines has established guidelines for addressing specific occupational hazards in underground coalmines. This is not followed. Also, Pakistan has not yet ratified ILO’s important Convention (C 176) on Safety and Health in Mines. The Convention is in force since June 1995 and ratified by 33 countries. It is imperative the Government of Pakistan ratifies the Convention without further delay, and implement the same immediately.

    The writer is retired chairman of the State Engineering Corporation

    At least 22 killed in Congo gold mine collapse

    October 24, 2019

    The number of illegal miners killed in a gold mine collapse in the Democratic Republic of Congo rose to 22 on 03 October, the country’s minister of social affairs ensured.

    The initial death toll from Wednesday’s incident at an illegally-run mine in Kampene town in Congo’s Maniema province was 14, according to Social Affairs Minister Steve Mbikayi, but rescue workers searching for survivors recovered seven more bodies.
    Artisanal mining operations with inadequate safety measures abound in mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo and accidents at these sites are frequent.
    At least 36 illegal miners died after a copper mine owned by Glencore in Kolwezi, in Congo’s southeast region, collapsed in June. According to the Anglo-Swiss mining giant, an average of 2,000 illegal miners enter their sites in Congo every day.
    Source : CNN

    Chad gold mine collapse leaves about 30 people dead

    October 24, 2019

    About 30 people have died in a collapse at an illegal gold mine in Chad near the Libyan border.

    More victims might still be trapped in the debris, Defence Minister Mahamat Abali Sala told Reuters.

    The mine is located in the Tibesti region, where the discovery of gold nearly a decade ago led to a surge in illegal mining. The illicit industry has attracted Sudanese refugees looking to make enough money to get to Europe.

    A landslide caused the collapse, though accidents are common in the illegal mines due to a lack of oversight and unsafe practices.

    The accident occurred in Kouri Bougoudi in the Tibesti Province, which is largely lawless with little government presence.

    (Source : BBC)

    Link : https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-49839574

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