Mexican Mining Sector Has Decreased Its Accidents SignificantlyBy Paloma Duran | Tue, 08/09/2022 - 16:50
With the accident that occurred in Sabina, Coahuila, where 10 mining workers remain trapped, the country has experienced more than 270 mining accidents in the past decade. These catastrophes have killed 270 miners and injured another 108. However, in recent years, such accidents have become rarer, as mining companies improved safety across all areas.
According to the Ministry of Economy, there have been 276 mining accidents between 2012 and 2022, most of which occurred in Sonora, Durango, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Queretaro and Guanajuato. Experts say that although some mining companies already had high safety standards, these were reinforced further after the explosion at Pasta de Conchos mine 8, which trapped 65 of the 73 employees on the site in 2006.
The period with the highest number of accidents was from 2012 to 2017. In 2012, 40 accidents were reported, leading to the death of 55 workers and causing 25 to sustain injuries.
In 2013, 37 accidents were reported. Forty workers died and 16 suffered injuries. Some of the companies that reported accidents were Minera Bismark, Unión Minera de Naica, Minera Real de Ángeles and Alta Pimería Mines, among others. In 2014, it appeared that the number of accidents was declining, as only 27 accidents were reported, causing 30 fatalities and leading to seven injured workers. The mines with these accidents were Minera Real de Ángeles and Minera Excellon de México, among others.
Although experts thought accidents were on the decline, the figure rose to 36 in 2015, with 30 deaths and nine injured workers. The accidents occurred in the mines of Desarrollos Mineros Maple, Minera Fresnillo and Industrialized Materials, among others. In 2016, the ministry reported 37 accidents leading to 32 deaths and seven injured workers in the mines of Desarrollos Mineros el Águila, Desarrollos Mineros Canelas, Cozamin, Minera and Metalúrgica del Boleo, among others.
In 2017, 28 accidents caused the deaths of 25 workers and left 16 injured. The mines that reported accidents were Don David Gold México, Construcciones Mineras Raya, Minera del Norte, Desarrollos Mineros El Águila and Alpha Prime Mining.
According to experts, it was not until 2018 that the mining industry improved its safety indicators significantly. During this year, 27 accidents led to 30 deaths and nine injured workers. The accidents were occurred at the operations of Desarrollos Mineros Bismark, Compañía Minera Dolores and Minera Mexicana la Ciénega, among others.
In 2019, the figure dropped to 20 accidents, with four workers injured. In 2020, the year in which the COVID-19 pandemic began, the incidence dropped significantly as there were only 12 accidents, killing 11 and causing five to sustain injuries. In 2021, 11 accidents caused 16 deaths and 10 injuries.
In 2022, the Ministry of Economy had only registered one accident at the Diabras Mining Unit in April and one in Coahuila, where 10 miners are still trapped as of today.
Experts assured that although the mining sector has improved in regards to safety as losses of human life dropped to an all-time low, there are still areas of opportunity because mining remains one of the industries with the highest fatality rates.
“We have a big gap to narrow in Mexico. There are certain limitations that put Mexico behind other countries. However, we are in the right path toward technology, automation and data science, which is crucial. Technology must be applied to increase production while protecting employees’ safety,” said Adrián Márquez, Director, VMX Mine Pro Mexico, at Mexico Mining Forum 2022.