Connect to share and comment
The Perils of Mining
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Working in tiny spaces 300 feet below the surface for hours on end with the possibility that millions of tonnes of earth could, at any moment, collapse on top of you. This is the reality of being a miner and it is daily life for hundreds of workers in the Jaintia Hills of India (1), a coal mine in the northeastern part of the country.    

Mining has long been, and remains, one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

In the United States, where the mining industry is highly regulated, an of average 50 to 60 miners die each year. In 2010, 29 miners in Raleigh County, West Virginia were killed by a methane explosion. The fear of being trapped below the surface is always a menace, and often only the lucky survive (5, 6, 7).  

In other areas of the world, mining remains unregulated, and the dangers are even greater. In East Java, Indonesia, miners work long hours as they attempt to remove large chunks of high acidic sulphur from an active volcano (3,4).

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of lives have been ripped apart by conflict over minerial deposits (9,10).

But in spite of the extreme danger, miners continue to dig. Often it is simply the need for steady work — especially in developing countries — that calls them back.

Perils of mining 1 20110413
1

Shyam Rai, 22, from Nepal pauses as he works, digging out coal, using hands and a pick to get at the seams of coal that lay 300 ft below the surface at a coal mine near the village of Latyrke near Lad Rymbai, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. April 13, 2011.

(Daniel Berehulak - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 2 20110413
2

A crane lifts miners out of a 300ft deep mine shaft, as they head out for their lunch break on April 13, 2011 near the village of Latyrke near Lad Rymbai, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India.

(Daniel Berehulak - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 3 20090524
3

Workers repair a sulphur pipe flow at the Ijen volcano complex outside Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia. The acidity of the water in the crater is high enough to dissolve clothing and cause breathing problems. May 24, 2009.

(Ulet Ifansasti - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 4 20090525
4

Traditional miners carry sulphur on the Ijen volcano complex outside Banyuwangi in East Java, Indonesia. May 25, 2009.

(Ulet Ifansasti - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 5 20110926
5

Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne speaks during a press conference at the San Jose mine, near the city of Copiapo, 800 kilometers (480 miles) north of Santiago. Oct. 9, 2010. At the time, 33 miners were trapped within the mine, in the end all were successfully rescued.

(JUAN MABROMATA - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 6 20110926
6

Kids light candles at Esperanza camp at the San Jose mine for Chilean miners trapped within the mine. Oct. 9, 2010.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 7 20110926
7

Relatives of miner Renan Avalos celebrate after he was rescued from the San Jose mine, in Copiapo, Chile. Oct. 13, 2010.

(AFP - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 8 20100820
8

Strip mining patterns in the Jaenschwalde open-pit lignite coal mine near Jaenschwalde, Germany. August 20, 2010. The Jaenschwalde mine feeds coal to the nearby Jaenschwalde power plant, which is one of the biggest single producers of CO2 gas in Europe.

(Sean Gallup - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 9 20110926
9

Men sift through buckets of dirt while looking for gold at an abandoned industrial mine in Mongbwalu, Congo. March 28, 2006. Thousands of Congolese scrape together meagre livings from mining. Gold and other mineral deposits, which are numerous in the volatile north-east of the country, have become a catalyst to much of the conflict in Congo.

(Spencer Platt - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 10 20110926
10

Men work in a gold mine on in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. Feb. 23, 2009.

(LIONEL HEALING - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 11 20110926
11

Workers viewing a large modern open-cut and shaft mine system in the upper Hunter Valley. Feb. 22, 2006.

(DAVID HANCOCK - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 12 20110927
12

Afghan miners work in a coal mine 100 km east of the western city of Herat, in Afghanistan. June 26, 2010. A US survey has uncovered at least one trillion dollars worth of mineral deposits in Afghanistan, however with barely any mining industry or infrastructure in place in the war torn country, there are doubts as to how Afghanistan will be able to manage this windfall.

(Majid Saeedi - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 13 20100711
13

An Afghan miner examines a handful of emeralds in a makeshift emerald mine in The Panjshir Valley. July 14, 2010.

(Majid Saeedi - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 14 20110926
14

Workers drain away polluted water near the Zijin copper mine in Shanghang. July 13, 2010. Pollution from the mine contaminated the Ting river, a major waterway in southeast China's Fujian province.

(STR - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 15 20050315
15

A miner with dirt on his face comes out from a coal mine after work in Chongqing, China. March 15, 2005. The country has launched nationwide campaigns to improve coal mine safety. China has some of the most dangerous mines in the world.

(China Photos - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 16 20110927
16

A couple of gigantic Komatsu 930, 330-metric-tonnes lorries arrive with their load at the Chuquicamata copper mine, in the desert town of Calama, 1000 km north of Santiago, Chile, Oct. 25, 2005.

(MARTIN BERNETTI - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 17 20110927
17

A figure of a Virgin is seen in the entrance of the collapsed San Jose mine near Copiapo, 700km north of Santiago. Aug. 4, 2011.

(MARTIN BERNETTI - AFP/Getty Images)
Perils of mining 18 20060109
18

Ribbons hang along the fence at the Sago mine in Tallmansville, West Virginia. Jan. 9, 2006. Twelve of 13 miners perished following a mine explosion Jan. 2 in Sago, West Virginia.

(Jeff Swensen - AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesia ramadan 2014 3
It's a lovely thing when shared traditions unite so many different people.
Organizers will now submit their claim for a new record to Guinness World Records, which is expected to rule on it within two months.
Hong kong tiananmen vigil 3
A large number of mainland Chinese also flocked to commemorate the crackdown in the former British territory, where a vigil has been held every year since the massacre.