HSE International

Over 100 Miners Rescued From Siberian Mine After Underground Fire

Initial reports said more than 50 of the miners working at the time of the accident were trapped below the surface.

MRS Training & Rescue launch new website and training facility

As part of the work to re-brand Mines Rescue Service to MRS Training & Rescue, we are pleased to announce the launch of their new company website…

Russian mine disaster toll climbs to 36

Moscow (AFP) – The death toll in Russia’s worst mining disaster in years climbed to 36 on Sunday as officials said 26 workers missing following methane explosions at the pit in the country’s frozen Arctic north could not have survived.

 Two blasts ripped through the Severnaya coal mine on Thursday at a depth of 748 metres (2,450 feet), killing four miners and trapping 26 others.

Six more people were killed on Sunday as a fresh explosion hit the mine in the city of Vorkuta in the Komi region, once home to one of the most feared Soviet-era Gulag labour camps.

“According to the expert technical council, 26 (missing) people who were in the mine had no chances of surviving,” Tatyana Bushkova, a spokeswoman for the mine’s operator Vorkutaugol, told AFP on Sunday.

“The rescue operation has been halted,” she added in an emailed statement.

Anton Kovalishin, a spokesman for the emergencies ministry in the Komi region, told AFP a new explosion in the early hours of Sunday killed five rescue workers and a miner.

“This is a difficult emergency situation, a difficult catastrophe for Russia, for our mining industry,” said Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is heading a special commission established to deal with the tragedy.

He said the families of the victims would each receive one million rubles ($13,000) in compensation.

Russia mine accident

Vorkutaugol is operated by Severstal, the Russian steelmaker controlled by billionaire Alexey Mordashov.

The company was considering whether to flood the mine but now apparently decided to pump it with nitrogen to stop the fire burning at the pit, said Bushkova.

“The chairman of Severstal’s board of directors Alexei Mordashov said that he expects the Severnaya mine to continue its work after the consequences of the disaster have been liquidated,” she said.

“This is the company’s largest mine that produces about a fourth of Vorkutaugol’s output.”

– ‘Risk of new explosions’ –

Authorities launched a massive search operation involving hundreds of rescue workers who had been trying to track down the missing despite almost zero visibility, smoke, gas-polluted air and rubble.

Both the company and the authorities had until now refused to declare the missing dead even though rescuers had apparently failed to make contact with them over the past few days.

But the latest explosion forced officials to admit that no one could have survived.

“Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge that all the conditions at that section of the mine would not allow a person to survive,” Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said in comments broadcast by LifeNews television channel.

Seventy-seven people were in the mine during the rescue operation when the new explosion hit on Sunday, the emergencies ministry said.

Of these, 71 were rescued and brought to the surface. Eleven of them were injured.

“According to experts, there is a high risk of new explosions,” the ministry said.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday have been declared days of mourning in the region.

“We are unable to bring people from the dead but we will do everything to support their families at this difficult hour,” acting head of the Komi region, Sergei Gaplikov, told families of the victims, in remarks released by his office.

Earlier this week President Vladimir Putin tasked the government with setting up a special panel to look into the accident.

The Investigative Committee has opened a criminal probe into the violation of safety rules and dispatched investigators and forensic experts to the scene.

Mine accidents are fairly common in Russia and other former Soviet countries, where much of the infrastructure has not been modernised since the Communist era.

The explosions at the Severnaya mine took place despite the fact that the company has over the past years invested heavily in safety, Vorkutaugol said.

“We are constantly spending lots of money — and we will spend it in the future — to perfect the technical systems that ensure safety and prevent violations,” Mordashov was quoted as saying.

In 2010, 91 people — both miners and rescuers — died after a methane explosion at the Raspadskaya mine in the Siberian region of Kemerovo.

In 2007, 110 people died at the Ulyanovskaya mine, in the same region, the country’s worst mining accident since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Original Source: http://news.yahoo.com/six-people-die-explosion-russias-arctic-mine-official-081630558.html

Russian Coal Mine Accident in Vorkuta Kills 36 Including 5 Rescuers

This photo provided by Russian Emergency Situations Ministry shows rescuers from Kemerovo region arriving for help in Vorkuta, Russia on Saturday

A total of 36 people were killed at a coal mine in Russia’s far north where a methane gas leak triggered three explosions that resulted in a raging fire and the collapse of the mine, officials said Sunday.


The dead include five rescue workers and a miner who were killed early Sunday when the third explosion rocked the 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 of 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 rage, all of the missing miners were presumed dead.

At the time of the blast, 110 miners were underground and 80 were rescued.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who visited the mine on Sunday, said federal investigators had drawn preliminary conclusions about the cause of the accident but were not yet ready to release their findings, Russian news agencies reported.


Original Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/russian-coal-mine-accident-vorkuta-kills-36-including-5-rescuers-n527461

Probe after ‘vehicle plunge’ at Northumberland quarry

An investigation by the police and the Health and Safety Executive has begun after a worker died in a “serious accident” at a quarry in Northumberland.

Unconfirmed reports suggested the incident at Harden Quarry in Biddlestone, near Rothbury involved a tractor falling some distance.

Five ambulance crews were sent to the remote scene following a call.

A North East Ambulance Service spokeswoman said one of the crews was from the Hazardous Area Response Team.

Three fire engines and a specialist rescue unit were also scrambled.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service was alerted but the call was stood down before the helicopter flew to the scene.

Aerial view of

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “The Health and Safety Executive and police are investigating a serious accident at Harden Quarry at Biddlestone, Northumberland.”

County councillor Steven Bridgett said: “It is with great sadness that I have learned, following an incident at Harden (Biddlestone) Quarry in Upper Coquetdale, that a member of staff at the site tragically lost their life.

“We are a close knit community in Coquetdale and on behalf of the residents of the valley I would like to offer our deepest sympathy to the bereaved family.

“I would also like to extend my sincerest appreciation to the emergency services who attended the scene, who acted with professionalism and were a credit to Northumberland.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2015, All Rights Reserved.

Source: http://www.shieldsgazette.com/news/regional-news/probe-after-vehicle-plunge-at-northumberland-quarry-1-7503101?

Colombia says lax safety may have contributed to fatal Drummond coal accident

Colombia’s second-biggest coal miner, U.S.-headquartered Drummond, failed to implement adequate health and safety practices prior to an accident in which two workers were killed when a cargo of coal was tipped on them, the Labor Ministry said.

The ministry said it will press administrative charges after finding lax procedures may have contributed to the March deaths of two workers when coal was poured into a loading pit that they were welding at Drummond’s port.

“Drummond did not meet its obligation to establish and permanently carry out a program of occupational health and a workplace health and safety system which are presumably responsible for the risks in its working environment,” the ministry said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

A Drummond spokesman said the company had not yet been notified of the charges and so would not offer comment.

A labor ministry official who declined to be identified told Reuters that as it was an administrative rather than a criminal investigation, the company would most likely face a fine if it is confirmed that some safety norms were not heeded.

The case will be judged by two labor inspectors in a process that typically takes three to four months, the official said.

Drummond has been fined by the Colombian government on two other occasions in the last two years, once when a cargo of coal spilled from a barge into the sea in late 2012 and again in early 2014 for failing to comply with a new environmental law.

Colombia is the world’s fourth biggest coal exporter.

Reporting by Peter Murphy

Original Source: http://reut.rs/1ELx9QV

Mining deaths in South Africa drop 10% to lowest level ever in 2014

Fatalities in the mining industry have dropped by 10% to the lowest level ever in South Africa’s history, according to Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi.

In 2014, 84 miners were killed, which is down from 93 in 2013. “The breakdown of fatalities per commodity during the year 2014 is as follows: gold, 44; platinum, 15; coal, nine; and other mines, 16,” he told reporters in Pretoria on Friday. Other mines include diamond, chrome, copper, and iron ore mines.

“It is encouraging to note that 2014 mine fatalities are the lowest ever recorded in the history of mining in South Africa,” he added. The decrease in mining fatalities follows the trend set in 2013 when mining deaths dropped from over 100 annually, and Ramatlhodi applauded the sector’s steady progress. In 1993, 615 miners were killed, and the 2014 figure represents an 86% improvement.

2015 is off to a bad start

Nevertheless, 7 workers have already been killed in January 2015, and the minister said “I want to convey my serious concern that we continue to experience loss of life in the sector. It is with deepest regret and sadness that so early in 2015, seven mine workers have already lost their lives.”

Gold and platinum mines are main contributors to accidents and fatalities, he said. “This is regrettable, as we believe that these mines should be at the forefront in terms of the appropriate systems and expertise to enhance health and safety. Workers’ health and safety is crucial to mining’s long-term sustainability, hence our steely resolve to implement enforcement measures in terms of the law.”

Considering the stats

Most mining fatalities (35%) are grouped into “general classification,” which includes inhaling dangerous fumes, being struck by an object, and falling from heights. Meanwhile, falls-of-ground make up 30% and transportation-related deaths account for 17% of fatalities in the industry.

Injuries have also dropped over time, falling about 18%, from 3 123 in 2013, to 2 569 in 2014. However, many reported injuries are not new and are mainly due to repeated accidents. “Although this is the lowest ever reported, the department is still greatly concerned about the high number of injuries reported at our mines,” Ramatlhodi said.

Occupational diseases have decreased by 170% since 2003, from 18 371 to 6 810 cases in 2013. The biggest reductions included pulmonary tuberculosis and noise-induced hearing loss.

“The gold sector continues to report a higher number of occupational diseases than all the other sectors. The poor implementation of health programmes at some mines remains a major concern,” Ramatlhodi said.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1z5TLNE

How new technologies are helping mining companies to come clean

The devastating effects of mine wastewater are regrettably obvious: polluted rivers and streams, dead aquatic life and countless hardships for downstream populations. Mining companies are under increasing pressure to contain, control and clear up contaminated water from their operations.

One knock-on effect is the mining industry’s emergence as “one of the most dynamic” markets for water and wastewater treatment, according to a recent report by industry analysts Frost & Sullivan. By 2016, the industry’s demand for water-treatment equipment and services is expected to be worth $3.6bn (£2.3bn).

While regulatory trends explain much of this growth, another force is also at work: the rising value of metal recovery. Historically, wastewater treatment was catergorised exclusively as a business cost, but advances in metal-removal technologies now mean there could be money to be made too. “Metal recovery is especially interesting on the precious metals side, such as gold, copper and [other] highly valuable metals,” says Fredrick Royan, global research director for environment markets at Frost & Sullivan.

Almost any marketable metal extracted from wastewater could prove profitable. And any revenue stream that helps offset the expense of mandatory wastewater merits consideration, according to Adrian Brown, a wastewater consultant and former president of the International Mine Water Association (IMWA). “[Mining firms] are pretty much stuck with treating the wastewater whether it’s economic or not,” he says. “So suddenly any metal recovery is beneficial in the sense that it has the ability to either reduce your project costs or, at the very least, to dispose of the extracted material from your project at zero or no cost.”

Traditionally, metal recovery meant a substantial upfront investment in infrastructure, together with higher energy and chemical costs. One of the most common methods for treating water with high concentrations of dissolved metals is lime neutralization. Adding lime or limestone may remove the acidity of wastewater, but it creates a hydroxide sludge from which it is then very difficult to extract individual metals.

“In the large majority of mining waste, the metals of value are mixed in a cocktail that contains basically the whole periodic table of elements. A lot of these elements have no value and some of them [won’t] be removed because they are not toxic,” explains David Kratochvil, interim chief executive at the Vancouver-based water treatment firm BioteQ Environmental Technologies. “The trick is to be able to select the metals of value from this cocktail.”

New technologies allow mining companies to do this. Top of the list is sulphide precipitation, which adds a biological or chemical source of sulphide to wastewater to transform the target metal from a liquid into a solid, forming high-grade solid metal sulphides that can be sold or disposed of.

Swiss-based mining giant Glencore employs this tool to treat mine drainage at its Raglan nickel mine in the Canadian sub-Arctic. Using BioteQ’s patented ChemSulphide technology, the mine’s treatment system has the capacity to treat more than 1m cubic metres of mine wastewater during the four months of the year it isn’t frozen.

Water effluent from its treatment plant contains nickel levels below the regulated requirement, while also producing high-grade nickel concentrate. The mine is now free of the metal-laden sludge waste created by the lime plant that preceded the new system.

Other wastewater-based metal recovery technologies exciting interest include ion exchange, ultra filtration (including reverse osmosis, where wastewater is pushed through a membrane at high pressure), electrolytics and various biological treatments to oxidise metals. None is without its challenges, according to Brown. Biological treatments require long timescales and considerable space, while electrolytic and filtration solutions are energy-intensive and generate concentrated waste.

But Brown remains confident about the potential for metal recovery from mine wastewater. “It is wide open as there are some very major changes in the underlying technologies … all of which have been greatly optimised in recent years,” he says.

Mining, however, is a conservative industry. If high metal prices could be guaranteed, they might be quicker to upgrade their wastewater treatment, but they cannot. Kratochvil believes policy makers could play a more active role. One possible option would be to allow mining companies more time to meet decontamination targets if they commit to invest in technologies that require lower energy use and fewer chemicals.

“It’s remarkable how perceptions of environmental liability have changed [but] our struggle is finding the incentives for mining companies to really innovate,” he says.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1ACDG2m

361 miners killed in Turkey in 2014 in job-related accidents

A total of 361 people died in mining accidents in Turkey last year, a recent report from a leading workers’ union has revealed.

According to the report, prepared by the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers’ Unions (DİSK) and titled “Workplace Murders 2014,” mine accidents in 2014 claimed the lives of 361 workers and severely injured 84 people on 81 occasions. Mentioning an explosion in Soma, a town in Manisa province, that killed 301 miners in May 2014, the report said the accident passed into history as one of the greatest mine accidents ever in the world.

The report listed landslides, firedamp explosions, blazes and flooding as primary causes of fatalities in mining areas in 2014. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has called on people to accept the reality of mining tragedies, which has drawn reactions from the public in Turkey and abroad, the report said. According to the report, most of the deaths last year occurred in the month of May, followed by June, in which 10 miners died, and October, with nine worker deaths. September came in fourth place, with eight miner deaths.

Accusing the ruling party of not doing its part to prevent the fatalities, the DİSK report asserted that the government passed anti-democratic bills that favored employers over workers.

In a recent mine disaster, 18 workers were trapped underground after a coal mine was flooded with water in Ermenek, a town in Karaman province, in late October. The dead bodies of the miners were not found for many days.

The first miner death of the new year occurred on Sunday in the northwestern province of Edirne, when a 43-year-old worker was crushed between two coal wagons after the ropes carrying the wagons snapped.

Turkey had one of the world’s worst workplace safety records in 2014, as lax safety standards exacerbated by negligence by the government and employers led to the deaths of hundreds of workers and hundreds more were injured or disabled.

A total of 1,886 workers in all sectors died on the job during 2014, 54 of whom were children. These disasters have been commonly referred to as “workplace murders” due to substandard safety conditions frequently playing a part in the incidents.

The country already had the highest rate of worker deaths in Europe and the world’s third-highest rate in 2012, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Recent figures show that Turkey failed to make any progress in improving its bleak record in 2013 and 2014. Nevertheless, the government has consistently tried to find temporary solutions to problems only after fatalities and has thus harmed workers. An omnibus bill passed in Parliament after the Soma mine blast led to thousands of workers losing their jobs in Zonguldak province because 22 mine owners decided to shut down operations since the amendments in the bill regulating work hours increased their production costs.

Likewise, right after the disaster in Ermenek, the government introduced a new set of regulations intending to reduce the number of industrial accidents; however, the regulations failed to spark progress in sustaining job security measures in the country, as accidents continue to take place at an equal rate.

Hurried regulations following accidents seem to be a way for the government to quell reactions from the public.

As an example of such hurried regulations, the government recently submitted a bill to Parliament that may pave the way for the privatization of mine inspections.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1HGqfjW

Bosnian Mine Accident: 29 Rescued, 5 Miners Buried

Exhausted, dusty but happy to be alive, 29 miners were pulled out one by one Friday from a trouble-plagued coal mine that collapsed a day earlier in central Bosnia. They left behind five men, presumed dead under rubble deep underground and beyond the reach of rescuers.

Emergency workers had dug through more than 100 meters (330 feet) of collapsed mine tunnels 500 meters below the surface to reach the trapped men.

Families of those who were left behind broke down in tears as authorities closed the pit entrance.

“We could not reach that group of people,” said rescue worker Amir Arnaut. “We could only reach the first group.”

Officials said that an investigation will be launched to determine the cause of the accident, but they suggested it was linked to a 3.5 magnitude earthquake which hit the town of Zenica on Thursday afternoon, according to Bosnia’s seismologists. The tremor caused a pressure burst and a gas blast which collapsed the mine, officials said.

It was the third incident at the Zenica pits this year, underscoring the vulnerability of the mines in Bosnia and elsewhere in the Balkans, which are generally poorly secured and where miners work with outdated equipment and little protection.

Once communist Yugoslavia’s pride, mines likes the ones in Zenica have been badly maintained, and have seen almost no investment and modernization as the region was engulfed in an ethnic conflict in 1990s.

The rescued men, blinking as they faced daylight, emerged from the mine to cries of joy from their families.

“He is alive!” cried Admira Durakovic, whose husband Amir was among the miners. She then broke down, sobbing and shaking.

Twenty-six miners were taken to a hospital, six of them badly hurt, but none suffered life-threatening injuries, doctors said.

Alija Celebic, a retired miner, waited for his son Bego, one of the survivors. Celebic said his son was hurt in the same pit only few weeks ago, but recently returned to work.

“All is good as long as he is alive!” he exclaimed.

The families and union leaders accused the management of responding poorly to the latest collapse, particularly in first claiming that only eight workers were trapped. Union leaders said it was seven hours after the blast before authorities brought in rescue machinery.

Sixteen miners — a total of 430 work in the pit — were hurt in two previous gas explosions, the most recent less than four weeks ago. The mine was the site of one of the greatest mining tragedies in Bosnia’s history, when 39 miners died in a gas explosion in 1982.

Mine manager Esad Civic conceded that the Zenica mine — once among the most modern in Europe — is now far from the world standard, following Bosnia’s 1992-95 war that impoverished the country. But he insisted that accidents are unavoidable when mining deep underground.

Nuraga Duranovic, a mining inspector, said the deaths cannot be officially confirmed until the bodies are found. Officials said efforts to recover the bodies will continue on Saturday.

He said 22 other miners managed to get out of the pit Thursday, two of whom were injured.

Muris Tutnjic, one of those who got out Thursday, returned to the site Friday to show his support. He said the underground blast “just blew us away.”

“I was alone. … Thank God I managed to pull myself out,” Tutnjic told The Associated Press. “My colleagues … they were some 200, 300, maybe 400 meters (yards) away from me, they got covered.”


Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.

Original Source: http://abcn.ws/1pRbEwg

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