Fatal incidents cast a black cloud over the coal mining sector every year, and this year was no exception. 2011 marked another year of tragedies in coal mining, an industry that seems to continually re-earn its reputation as one of the world's most dangerous occupations.
As usual, China's safety record has been inexcusably poor, despite the fact that the country's coal mining fatality statistics have been gradually falling for the last decade or more.
The fact remains that Chinese coal mining disasters reportedly left more than 500 workers dead and more than 100 missing in 2011. The country's ongoing safety fiasco has been attributed to issues like lax regulation, a penalty system that makes it more profitable to pay fines than correct safety faults, the prevalence of small and often illegal mining operations, corruption in day-to-day mining operations and more.
But China is certainly not alone in its safety problems. The deaths of 21 US coal miners in separate incidents seems to have gone mostly under the radar this year.
In the Ukraine, two major coal mine incidents (an explosion and an elevator collapse) occurred in two separate mines on the same day in July 2011, claiming a total of 18 lives and leaving 20 workers missing.
Coal mining might be moderately safer than it was 50 or 100 years ago, but considering the sophistication of available technology in modern mining, that's not saying much. Much of the problem seems rooted in corporate culture rather than technology, however. Mining companies need to understand that profit begins only after the safety of all workers is ensured to the highest levels possible.
This damaging and sinister mingling of production and safety issues was reflected in the report on last year's Upper Big Branch mine disaster by the United Mine Workers of America published on 25 October 2011.
The report accused mine operator Massey Energy of committing 'industrial homicide' and criticised management for 'a culture that demanded production at any cost and...a callous disregard for the health and safety of the miners employed at the operation'.
Still, these challenges are benefiting from (and to some extent, driving) technological innovation in areas like remote surveying vehicles, geographical information systems and satellite imaging. Even the problem presented by a lack of available expertise in the area could herald new interest in autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles.
Although mining investment will almost certainly benefit Mongolia as a whole, the picture is not so pretty for the nomads who live in the Gobi desert. Reports have already surfaced of the huge mines monopolising vital water supplies and throwing perpetual clouds of choking dust into the air.
'Every day, they use 2,000 off-road 100-ton trucks,' said the Mongolian Green Party co-chairman.
'There is so much dust in the sky, it looks like a war is taking place,' said Enkhbat, co-chairman of the Mongolian Green party. 'The government needs a much more comprehensive plan to protect the environment and respect local communities. This is not just about economics. It is about human rights.'As the professional manufacturer of complete sets of mining machinery, such as Artificial sand maker,Portable crusher,Jaw breakers, Henan Hongxing is always doing the best in products and service.
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