Collapse of Mir Mine in Yakutia indicates awful working conditions of mining industry and miners of Russia

Today August 29 was observed as the “Day of Mourning” to remember those miners who lost their lives in tragic incident of flooding and caving in of Мир –Mir (English meaning—World) underground mine at Mirny city in the Republic of (Sakha) Yakutia. State flags were flying half mast on state buildings in Yakutia Republic.

Families of lost miners believe that State Mourning will not bring back lives of deceased miners back including Alexey Vlasenko, Dmitry Zhukov, Vitaly Kulikov, Dmitry Mariin, Gleb Mirontsev, Valentin Misnik, Mikhail Neustroev and Igor Stepanov. Alrosa —the company that owns collapsed mine is yet to announce any compensation for the families of dead miners. The company would give compensation to families of dead miners or not is not a big question but question is why state had been silent and did not order the company to stop diamond execution work and why did not pass orders to evacuate diamond mine when first accident took place inside flooded mines on July 27?

Total collapse of mine took place on August 4, 2017 and ill-fated miners were ordered to work 12 hours a day instead of normal eight working hours in last week of August. Injured miners secretly claim that company knew that mine was collapsing therefore it wanted to get maximum raw product out of mine before the greatest incident of total collapse of mine could happen.

Information gathered by journalist Larisa Zhukova are enough to make anybody cry. Miners were working under terrible situation with almost no protective gears and under stick rule of not leaving work when mine was collapsing with every passing day.

Mir Mine management called off rescue operation on today (August 29) officially while actual rescue work was stopped on August 26 evening.

Representatives of the company Alrosa say that they still do not know about the causes of the tragedy, but former employees and relatives of the miners know the reason that according to them the main reason of collapse of mine was failure of pumping soil water that was seeping in but was not pumping out from the mine.

Majority of dead miners belonged to Belgorod and flew to accident area in a hope to find out their trapped relatives. However they are told that eight of them are dead and their bodies would be recovered next year.

Authorities of Alrosa said that attempts to prevent the accumulation of water did not give the desired result and over 35,000 cubic meters water accumulated in mines while further blasting could lead to the collapse of total underground operational infrastructure.

There had been hunger strikes in past in these mines to protest against unsatisfactory working conditions but such protests were allegedly snubbed with state power.

According to engineers, Mir Mine conducted open way operations (like a pit where passage to mine goes directly from road and mine is open to see sky. The underground mine started operations in year 2009 when depth of the pit reached 520 meters.

Collapse of Mir Mine in Yakutia
Collapse of Mir Mine in Yakutia

According to media, engineers claim that water-bearing horizon was discovered when underground mining was started but owners created a “dry conservation” system with a 50 meter artificial waterproof layer of rock and crushed stone. However, it did work, resulting constant seepage of water into mine. It was reported in media that after two years of operation, the first emergency situation happened in mine in year 2011 when underground water level rose 20 meters and subsequently entered into mine. It is claimed that pumps could not be installed for five months and the inflow of water was four times higher than the projected volume, that resulted an increase in cracks in the protective layer of the mine.

It is claimed in media reports that Mir (World) Mine was in critical situation in terms of safe and efficient mining operations by July 2012 due to the inadequacy of measures to protect the underground mine from water inflows. As many as 200 wells were drilled, through which the water was pumped to the surface by pump through a drainage system. The situation of Mine was also raised in the parliament of Yakutia in past but situation in mine remained same and miners had to work within terribly dangerous working conditions.

Collapse of underground Mir Mine in Yakutia Russia

One family member of dead miner told local media that conditions were terrible and there was water all around knee-high and even higher but he was told to continue work underground.

The story of Mir Mine gives a picture in what conditions over two million miners are working in Russian mineral industry. Historically, (former Soviet Union and today’s Russia) ranks among the leading world producers mineral commodities, including coal, iron products, diamond, aluminum, arsenic, cement, copper, magnesium compounds and metals, nitrogen, palladium, silicon, and vanadium.

“Nothing changes for the life of a miner and his family. Companies earn billions of dollars every year but miners are living in same condition where they lived at the end of Soviet Union rather in worst condition”, said wife of a miner who lost his live underground of Mir Mine.

Mir Mine as diamond-bearing deposits area was discovered on June 13, 1955 by Soviet geologists and the development of the mine started in 1957. The Mir mine was the first developed and the largest diamond mine in the Soviet Union. This mine produced thousands of kilograms of diamond since operation but miners working there had no adequate security climates before the mine collapsed on August 4, 2017.

Who will change the fate of miners in Russia? President Vladimir Putin?

 

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author Ilyanova (first name withheld on request) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of Dispatch News Desk.

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