REPORT: 500 Miners Trapped Underground in Ukraine
Nearly 500 Ukrainian miners are trapped and in the dark after an artillery shell hit the power station serving them. The incident occurred at noon on Monday, January 26. The Zasyadako coal mine is located in the city of Donetsk, which is the epicenter of furious fighting as Ukrainian government troops try to wrest control of the region from separatist rebels. Responsibility for the attack is unclear as both sides deny involvement.
Both the Zasyadako mine and the city of Donetsk are under siege. Interfax news agency reported that the mine experienced a similar blackout on January 12, when 390 miners were trapped. The Independent reports that just last week a shell hit the city’s tram and bus terminal in Kuprina Street during the morning rush hour. 13 people were killed and dozens were injured.
According to News Sky, “Leaders of the [separatist] rebels withdrew from peace talks with the Western-backed government in Kiev last week and pledged to seize new territory that could expand their reach over most of Ukraine’s industrial east.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the Ukrainian army “NATO’s foreign legion.”
News Sky cites Putin stating, “In essence, this is not an army, this is a foreign legion - in this particular case NATO's foreign legion, which of course does not pursue the objective of serving Ukraine's national interests.”
According to the Independent, the Zasyadako coal mine has a reputation for being one of the most deadly in the Ukraine. Over the last 15 years, 250 miners are believed to have died in accidents and explosions. In November 2007, it was the scene of one of the nation’s worst mining accidents when a huge methane gas explosion killed 101 workers.
To date, around 100 miners have been safely evacuated from this most recent catastrophe. Sky News reports that the blast did not damage the ventilations systems, sparing the workers’ lives.
UPDATE: According to The Guardian, all 500 miners have been removed without injury and the power station is back online.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.