Rescuers make contact with trapped Hushan miners
Rescuers working to make contact with trapped miners at an underground gold mine in east China’s Shandong Province say they have retrieved a note from the site that indicates that 12 workers are still alive, leaving the fate of another 10 unclear.
An explosion at the Hushan mine in Qixia City left the miners trapped, local authorities say. Although the blast took place on January 10, it was not until 30 hours later that the accident was reported, resulting in the sacking of two senior local officials and severe criticism levelled at those responsible.
A Xinhua News Agency report says that rescuers have felt people pulling on the iron ropes that were used to deliver nutrient solutions on Sunday night. The rescuers previously drilled a channel at 1:56PM local time on Sunday, knocked on the drilling pipe and received knocking sounds back in response.
The blast took place at approximately 2pm on January 10, about 240 metres away from the mine entrance, the report states, adding that 22 miners were working 600 metres away from the explosion site.
The workers’ communication systems have been damaged in the blast, while debris are blocking the mine shaft, rescuers say, pointing out that the late reporting of the accident has also hampered rescue efforts.
The Hushan Mine is owned by Shandong Wucailong Investment Co. Zhaojin Mining Industry Co, China’s fourth-largest gold miner, describes Shandong Wucailong Investment Co as a ‘subsidiary of an associate’. It has not commented publicly on the accident.
However, Shandong provincial authorities have sacked two top officials in the city of Qixia following the explosion. State broadcaster CCTV reports that Qixia Communist Party Secretary Yao Xiuxia and Deputy Secretary Zhu Tao – who also served as mayor – have been dismissed. Li Bo, deputy mayor of Yantai, which oversees Qixia, will act as Qixia party secretary, the broadcaster adds.
Speaking at news conference on January 15, Li stated that authorities would investigate and ‘severely punish’ those responsible for the accident’.
China’s mining industry has a poor safety record, with accidents common and regulations poorly enforced. In December 2020, 18 miners were killed due to a carbon monoxide leak at the Songzao coal mine, which is owned by a local energy company, in the southwestern city of Chongqing. The burning of belts in the mine caused carbon monoxide levels to exceed safety limits, Xinhua reported at the time.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.