MAC: Mines and Communities

'Modern slavery' and fatal explosions in Mexican coal mines

Published by MAC on 2011-05-10
Source: FIDES, Associated Press, Reuters

Bishop calls on authorities to stop ignoring the "modern slavery" suffered by coal miners.

Fourteen miners have been killed in an accident in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila, where 65 miners died in a collapse caused by an explosion at the Pasta de Conchos mine on Feb. 19, 2006.

Catholic Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo called on the authorities to stop ignoring the facts and to end the "modern slavery" suffered by the coal miners in Coahuila.

See also: Mining "accidents" may be increasing in Latin America


Mexico pulls last bodies from collapsed coal mine


8 May 2011

MEXICO CITY - The last of the 14 bodies trapped in a collapsed coal mine in northern Mexico have been recovered, Mexico's labor minister said on Sunday.

Rescue workers had worked around the clock to find the victims after a shallow mine shaft collapsed on Tuesday outside the town of Sabinas in the desert state of Coahuila, which borders Texas.

All 14 miners caught up in the methane gas explosion died.

"At 1:35 this morning, the last victim of Tuesday's accident was rescued here in Sabinas. Mission accomplished," Labor Minister Javier Lozano said on Twitter.

Mexico has been a leading minerals exporter for centuries and expects $4 billion in investment in its mining industry this year. But smaller mines often escape inspection and bypass many basic safety standards. (Reporting by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Laura MacInnis)

Death toll from Mexican coal mine explosion rises to 11; landslide kills 3 at another mine

By Alberto Puente

Associated Press

7 May 2011

Labor Secretary Javier Zolano announced the recovery of the seventh body at the coal mine in a Twitter message Friday. Seven other miners remain missing at the mine in the town of San Juan Sabinas, where an explosion Tuesday also injured a teenage miner, who lost an arm.

SAN JUAN DE SABINAS, Mexico — Rescue crews have recovered five more bodies from a coal mine in northern Mexico hit by a gas explosion earlier this week, raising the confirmed death toll to 11.

The search continued Saturday in the town of San Juan Sabinas, in northern Coahuila state, for three other miners trapped and apparently killed by the blast Tuesday.

Officials have said there is little or no hope anyone survived the explosion at the primitive, vertical-shaft mine. The blast was so powerful it seriously injured a teenager who was working outside the mine. The boy lost an arm.

Fourteen miners were originally trapped in the shaft. Rescuers recovered six bodies before Friday.

Chilean experts called in by the Mexican government to assist at the site praised the recovery effort. But there was no longer any hope of a miraculous rescue like that of the 33 miners in Chile who survived 69 days underground following the Aug. 5 collapse of the San Jose mine.

Late Thursday, authorities reported that a landslide at an opal mine in the western Mexico state of Jalisco killed three people.

The Economy Department said the landslide killed three men at the open-air Pata de Gallo opal mine in Hostotipaquillo in Jalisco. The statement said the men were apparently scavengers looking for the semiprecious stones.

'Modern slavery' denounced in northern Mexico


6 May 2011

Catholic Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, has warned that until the Mexican government shutters the so-called "Pozos" for the extraction of coal and and will not force coal mining companies towards a more rigorous approach to safety standards, workers will continue to die from accidents at work, such as what happened on May 2. An explosion erupted that day at well Number 3, which belongs to Beneficios Internacionales del Norte (Binsa).

The bishop has called on the authorities, especially the Secretaries of Labor and Social Security and the Economy, to stop ignoring the facts and to end the "modern slavery" suffered by the miners. He also asked the Ministry of Economy to deny permission to the owners to operate because, he said, "the illegal wells, become tolerated tombs." In an interview with Mexico's La Jornada newspaper, Bishop Vera Lopez said it is a mistake to say that one tolerates the activity of the wells because they are sources of employment, when in fact "they are sources of exploitation and death ".

The bishop also criticized the statements that a district manager issued to a number of radio stations on the impossibility to fully control the territory, due to the lack of a sufficient number of inspectors and for the difficulty to detect mines. "It is still an excuse," said the bishop. "How can you say you do not know where the wells are , when they can be seen . Maybe Lozano (in charge of the area) has never been to a mining area in his life."

Mgr. Vera in the end claimed that if the authorities really had the will to act against the "employers of wells, with very few inspectors " one could close everything, " adding that many things you do not want to see, because they are covered by “corruption,” where in the Pasta de Conchos area 65 miners have died and another 63 have been left buried.

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