Saturday, October 6, 2007

Compare And Contrast

Rising gold prices have pushed companies in South Africa to dig deeper mines, but this past week's close call is raising questions about whether safety regulations are being ignored.

Some 3,200 workers were painstakingly rescued by Thursday morning from the depths of a mine shaft near Johannesburg after a pressurized air pipe snapped, damaging the elevator used to bring miners to the surface.

Despite being stuck in the shaft for more than 24 hours with no food or water, no one was harmed.

The mine's owners, Harmony Gold Mining Co., though, have come under criticism from the government for the accident at the Elandsrand mine.

At a mine and safety council meeting in downtown Johannesburg on Friday, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said the accident was preventable.

"If maintenance of that shaft was done properly, I think this could have been prevented," said Sonjica. "Something went wrong with the maintenance of that shaft."

Bureau of Land Management inspectors noted serious structural problems at Utah's Crandall Canyon Mine at least three years before two roof collapses killed nine people in August, Congress was told Tuesday.
Yet the government's mine safety agency in another agency -- the Labor Department -- didn't know of the concerns about Crandall Canyon until after the accident, Kevin Stricklin, a coal mine safety and health administrator for Labor, told a Senate hearing on the accident.

Read about them both and see what you think

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