Colombian mine fatalities down in 2011: official

LEADING coal exporter Colombia, which underwent a shift to greater enforcement of hazardous and illegal mines over the last year, reportedly saw a significant reduction in industry-related deaths in 2011.
Colombian mine fatalities down in 2011: official Colombian mine fatalities down in 2011: official Colombian mine fatalities down in 2011: official Colombian mine fatalities down in 2011: official Colombian mine fatalities down in 2011: official

 

Donna Schmidt

Ingeominas rescue operations head Edgar Morales told Dow Jones Newswires 127 miners were killed in mining incidents in 2011, a 27% drop from the 173 reported in 2010.

“We still have a ways to go in terms of safety but we're on track,” the mining oversight institute official said.

“Mines are becoming much safer.”

He said the fatalities occurred at coal mines as well as gold and other mineral mines.

Interestingly, Morales told the news service while deaths were on the decline, there was a 16% increase in 2011 accidents versus 2010.

With Ingeominas urging all small operations to report accidents, the shift to more accurate reporting has accounted for the increase.

The safety and regulatory push initially came after 20 miners were killed in a methane gas explosion at a small underground coal operation near the Venezuela border in January 2010.

The event prompted President Juan Manuel Santos to order mining oversight processes to go under a review.

According to Dow Jones, that examination revealed just 16 people were on staff to inspect more than 3000 Colombian mines.

The remainder of the year was spent hiring new inspectors who would subsequently order the shutdowns of many mines for safety and health violations, including inadequate ventilation.

Colombia, the fourth largest coal exporter in the world, is home to operations owned by US producer Drummond and Cerrejon, owned by a joint venture between Glencore International, BHP Billiton and Xstrata.

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