President López Obrador to Recover the Bodies of 63 MinersBy Paloma Duran | Wed, 10/28/2020 - 16:04
President López Obrador signed a pact to begin an integrated rescue plan to excavate the Pasta de Conchos mine and recover the remains of the miners that were buried in the 2006 mining accident. According to the president, the rescue plan is expected to conclude in August 2024 when his mandate ends.
In February 2006, there was an explosion at Pasta de Conchos’ mine 8 that trapped 65 of the 73 miners working at the site. The accident was due to the accumulation of methane gas and was worsened by the unsafe conditions of the mine. Since 2000, the mine had alarming security reports and the last inspection done was in 2004 and recorded 43 violations, according to Centro Prodh.
Despite these reports, authorities did not monitor the breaches, said Centro Prodh. In 2006, the National Human Rights Commission determined that the company did not guarantee proper working conditions for its employees. Grupo México oversaw the rescue efforts but these were suspended in 2007 as the lives of the rescuers were at risk.
After years of in-coming claims, López Obrador said his government will provide justice by implementing his reparation plan that includes three fundamental points: economic compensation for the victims’ families, urban development in the communities near the Pasta de Conchos mine and the rescue of the bodies of the 63 miners.
CFE will be responsible for the rescue efforts. President López Obrador mentioned that the area where the main access to the mine was located is no longer viable, so a new slope will be constructed on the southern side of the mine.
In an interview with Aristegui Noticias, Luisa Maria Alcalde, Minister of Labor and Social Security, mentioned that the rescue decision was based on a report done by experts from Germany, the US, Australia and China. These experts unanimously determined that the rescue was possible although it would take a long time and would be very costly.
Senator Napoleón Gómez Urrutia celebrated the reopening of homicide and negligence complaints against Grupo México that were ignored by past administrations, according to La Jornada. In addition, he mentioned that López Obrador’s plan of turning the mine into a memorial remembering those who lost their lives in the mines is essential to the hard work of those miners.
López Obrador reunited with the victims’ wives and mentioned that the rescue money is not an important factor and that the government will not limit CFE’s budget. The president recognized that the rescue period could take between four and eight years and, because of past suspensions, it is necessary to conclude the plan before the end of his mandate.
Alejandro Encinas, Government Deputy Minister, said that there are favorable conditions to finish the rescue before López Obrador’s presidential term ends and that this will cost approximately US$75 million. Meanwhile, the government is allocating MX$200 million (US$10 million) for the victims’ families.