Thursday, April 13, 2006

2006 Mining Fatalities: Getting It Straight

Ellen Smith of Mine Safety and Health News is concerned that there are too many different mining fatality figures being thrown around. So let's get it straight. Some of the confusion comes from the way MSHA keeps its figures separated into coal mining and "metal/non-metal" mining (which includes, for example, gold and salt mines).

There have been 24 fatalities in coal mines in 2006 and 6 fatalities in metal/non-metal mines (the last one occurring yesterday.) The total for 2005 was 22 fatalities in coal mines and 35 deaths in metal/non-metal mines.

But Smith points out that things aren't quite that simple. A train conductor at Tilden Mining's Michigan facility was killed on April 2, and MSHA has not yet counted that fatality even though it ocurred at a mine site.

Here's the story from the April 3 Mine Safety and Health News

Train Conductor Killed at Tilden Mine

A 51-year-old conductor was killed April 2 at the Tilden Mine train yard in Marquette County, Mich.

Kim G. Nicholls, 51, of Marquette fell from an iron ore pellet railcar at the Tilden Mine, according to information released by Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.

A preliminary report says that Nicholls fell off the rear of a train that was backing up in the Tilden stockpile area. Nicholls was pronounced dead at the scene from injuries that were likely sustained after being struck.

CCI operates the Tilden and Empire mines and the LS&I railroad transportation division in Michigan, employing about 1,400 people and producing about 13 million tons of iron ore pellets annually.

Sunday’s accident comes less than a week after CCI reached a milestone by producing its 500 millionth ton of iron ore pellets in Michigan.

The mine experienced 7 injuries last year and had a below average accident rate of 1.04 when the national average was 1.78 injuries per 200,000 manhours worked. MSHA had not listed this fatality on its website as of MSHN’s deadline.