14 die in coal mining explosion in Mexico

09.05.2011

IMF joins Mexican Miners' Union's call for better health and safety at mines in Mexico and punishment of companies and government authorities after 14 die in a coal mine explosion in Mexico on May 3.

MEXICO: Fourteen miners were confirmed dead on May 8 after their bodies were retrieved from a coal mine in Sabinas, Mexico following an explosion on May 3. The explosion also resulted in a 15 year old boy, working in the mouth of the mine, losing his arm and hospitalized with other injuries.

"The death of these 14 miners again highlights the terrible dangers miners face in Mexico and the urgent need for better regulation and provision of safety in mines," said IMF General Secretary Jyrki Raina.

The mine, which was operating without a permit and had been working for 20 days to a depth of approximately 50 meters, is known as a "potico". These small informal mines are dug by men and teenagers who can extract as much as 30 tonnes of coal a day.

The Sabinas mine is located in the state of Coahuila, the same state where an explosion at the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in 2006, left 65 miners dead and most of their bodies remain trapped until this day in the worst mine disaster in recent times in Mexico.

IMF-affiliated Mexican Miners' Union, Los Mineros, issued a statement saying that, regardless of the type of mine, workers "deserve to work in adequately safe conditions where sufficient health protections are in place". The union is calling for companies that do not implement adequate health and safety measures to be punished for criminal negligence, and for state or federal authorities to be punished for failing to meet their responsibility to protect the lives and health of Mexican workers.

Los Mineros, supported by the IMF, has continuously called for an investigation into the Pasta de Conchos disaster. Families of the lost men have been fighting for years to recover their remains, while Los Mineros and the international union community have sought justice. Los Mineros President Napoleón Gómez has called the disaster "industrial homicide."

"The evidence shows that the Mexican government is failing to adequately regulate the mining industry in Mexico, and Mexican workers are too often paying with the ultimate price: their life," said Raina.