Pakistan: Fatalities and poor labour conditions a growing concern in Pakistan’s coal industry

Paksitan Coal Disctrict_Deaths and

According to data gathered by the Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation, the coal industry in Pakistan experienced approximately 46 major accidents in coal mines in the last few years, resulting in more than 320 deaths. In addition, coal miners face serious occupational hazards, including hearing loss and spinal cord disorders caused by loud noise and continuous vibration of equipment. Labour groups attribute the fatalities and poor working conditions, in part, to weak enforcement of strict guidelines that exist under local laws.

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8 January 2019

Pakistan: Four killed, one injured in coal mine explosion

Author: Peoples Dispatch, Newsclick, Pakistan

"Four killed in Pakistan coal mine explosion", 4 January 2019

A blast in the Chamalang coal mines in Loralai district in Balochistan on January 2 led to the death of 4 miners and caused critical injuries to 1...[T]he explosion was a result of gas filling the mine while the workers were extracting coal...

...The incident occurred days after the [Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF)] and the All Pakistan Labour Federation (APLF) staged a demonstration and a rally in front of the Quetta Press Club to protest government negligence and abysmal working conditions in the mines. These conditions have led to nearly 120 deaths and injuries to nearly 117 workers in the past few months. According to estimates made by the PCMLF, mine-related accidents lead to nearly 100-200 deaths every year.

...[A] large number of mines are not registered with the government. As a result, those working in these mines are not included in government data and are often unable to avail medical and wage benefits. Miners usually begin work at the age of 13 and continue till they are about 30 years old, when they are forced into unemployment due to chronic respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, loss of eyesight, injuries, etc. caused due to the hazardous working conditions...

...There has been a sustained demand for improved regulations and implementation of existing laws. An application was filed in the Pakistani Supreme Court in September, urging that a judicial inquiry be undertaken into the working conditions in the mines in Balochistan...The fatalities reported in Balochistan area are part of a distressing trend in South Asia...Rescue efforts are underway for a group of 15 miners who have been stuck in a collapsed ‘rat-hole’ coal mine...[in the State of Meghalaya in India] for around 20 days...

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27 November 2018

Pakistan: Over 318 workers killed in last eight years in coal mines in Balochistan

Author: Syed Ali Shah, DAWN, Pakistan

“3 coal miners die after inhaling poisonous gas in Balochistan’s Dukki district”, 25 November 2018

At least three coal miners died on Sunday [25 November] and two others were left unconscious as result of exposure to a poisonous gas inside a coal mine in Balochistan's Dukki district. [A] [p]olice official…said the coal miners were working thousands of feet deep inside the mine when the incident happened. Other miners, through their own efforts, retrieved the bodies of the three deceased...

According to the Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation, casualties from accidents among labourers working in coal mines range from 100 to 200 every year… In the past eight years, more than 318 labourers working in coal mines have been killed in the course of their employment in Balochistan…

Just in the first eight months of this year, at least 50 miners have died in Balochistan and in August alone, 17 coal miners lost their lives in two separate incidents.

In one of these incidents, labourers were digging 300 feet deep in a coal mine owned by a local company in Bolan district, where they reportedly suffocated to death on account of lack of oxygen.

The other incident occurred due to an explosion in a coal mine in the Sanjdi area of Balochistan, claiming the lives of 15 labourers.

According to government sources, there are at least 20,000 labourers employed across Balochistan in 2,500 mines.


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21 November 2018

Pakistan: 46 accidents resulted in 327 deaths in coalmines in last few years

Author: Shahzada Irfan Ahmed, News on Sunday (TNS), Pakistan

"A life not 'mine'", 18 November 2018

Pakistan is rich in mineral resources, including coal that is being extracted since colonial times and used in running locomotive engines, factories, brick kilns, etc. There are substantial reserves in all the four provinces with Sindh topping the list with an estimated 184 billion tonnes of coal reserves…  

As per the figures compiled by Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation, there have been 46 incidents of major accidents in coalmines in the country during the last few years. These have resulted in at least 327 deaths and a large number of injuries. These are estimates and the actual number can be much higher. These deaths were caused primarily due to suffocation, burial under the falling roofs of the coalmines, accidents involving load-carrying vehicles and burnings in explosions caused inside the coalmines.

“There are strict guidelines under local laws and as per international guidelines regarding adoption of health and safety measures at coalmines but many of these are ignored,” says… Labour Education Foundation (LEF), a non-profit working for the rights of workers in Pakistan…Apart from risks of death and serious injury, coalmine workers are confronted by serious occupational health hazards. A study...says hearing loss is quite common among coalmine workers as blasting and production of electricity via diesel electricity generators create immense noise. Besides, continuous vibration in the coalmines causes spinal cord disorders. Similarly, continuous exposures to coal dust cause asthma and tuberculosis… 

An encouraging development is that US-based GE Power has introduced advanced boiler technology in Pakistan that makes even lignite coal usable for power production...Reportedly, GE has entered into a $60 million equipment and services deal to manage 330 MW Thar Energy Limited (TEL) power plant for 12 years.

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