Image credits: Bence Balla-Schottner
News Article

Sabinas Mine Collapse Caused by Political Errors: AHMSA

By Fernando Mares | Wed, 08/24/2022 - 14:00

Twenty days have passed since a coal mine collapsed in Sabinas, Coahuila, where little progress has been made to rescue 10 mining that remain trapped. A spokesperson for Grupo Acerero del Norte (GAN) and Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA) said that the accident was caused by the federal government’s mismanagement regarding political aspects rather than technical issues.

Francisco Orduña, Spokesman, GAN and AHMSA, said that the collapse was in part the fault of the federal government, especially of the state electric utility CFE, which approved coal purchase contracts arbitrarily without verifying how the providing mines operated. Therefore, the Orduña said that the catastrophe was caused by the government and not because of technical issues, as other industry insiders argued. 

Orduña said that the Mexican Geological Survey (SGM) made reports on coal mines, which were ignored by Manuel Barlett, Director General, CFE. according to him, this was not the first time that Barlett was warned about the state of operations. “CFE’s Director General should have verified the conditions of the mines before granting the contracts,” Orduña pointed out. 

Whether Barlett should be persecuted is for a judge to decide, said Orduña, adding that believes such a trial to be unlikely but that he personally thinks Barlett is partially responsible.

Regarding the rescue effort taking place at the El Pinabete mine, Orduña said that the company delivers supplies and equipment to carry out rescue works. He added that it sent a rescue team that stayed near the mine for some days. However, the professionals had to leave because the mine cannot be entered. Nonetheless, he made sure that their teams are ready to return when needed.

Currently, there are over 40 company experts participating in technical works at El Pinabete, including hydrologists, geologists and engineers, among others. Orduña said that all mines that the company manages have contingency plans and crews ready to help out.

CFE has been pointed out as a factor in the collapse before, as the state company buys over 99 percent of the coal produced in the state to fire its coal power plants, yet most of these purchases are considered to be murky. On July 21, 2022, CFE announced it would buy 3.1 million tons of coal from Sabinas. For this purpose, the company geared up to assign 52 contras under a progressive distribution strategy aiming to benefit smaller-scale producers. These contracts are to run until 2024.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
MBN, El Sol de Torreón
Photo by:   Bence Balla-Schottner
Fernando Mares Fernando Mares Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst