Home > Market change > Miners’ rescue turns into celebration

Miners’ rescue turns into celebration

October 18, 2010

“…The century-old mine, located off a dirt track in the bare hills of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, was worked the old-fashioned way. Miners blasted chunks of gold-laden rock with explosives, collected the rubble in trucks and sent it up to the surface to be processed at a plant in nearby Copiapó. …

“The mine was in precarious conditions and they always told the bosses, but the only thing they cared about was production,” said Ms Ramírez. The mine owners have apologised for the accident, but said the decision to reopen the mine in May 2008 after a worker died in an accident in 2007 was taken after safety checks by the authorities.”

Source: Financial Times, October 11 2010

Observations:

  • The San José mine, which has been the center point of the mining world’s attention for the last 2 months, faced several significant accidents over the past decade.
  • Chilean mining regulators have been fined after the latest accident because of lack of control. The cost of the mining operation will likely cause the mine to cease operations.

Implications:

  • Many mines in the region are improving safety precautions to ensure regulatory compliance. Still very few mines around the world use advanced cost-benefit analysis that includes the potential cost of accidents. Typically the safety design uses rock mechanical software that calculates a safety margin without taking the cost of reinforcements and potential cost of accidents in account.
  • Some probabilistic techniques attach a value to the risk of fatal accidents, based on the age and salary of the workers and the likelihood of miners hit by falling rock or being trapped. Although this technique is certainly not advisable for deciding whether or not to rescue trapped miners, it would help to include the type of use of drifts in performing cost-benefit analysis for mine design.

©2010 | Wilfred Visser | thebusinessofmining.com

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