Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label mining

Blood Money

Socialist Courier previously reported on a mining company’s criminal neglect of safety that caused the lives of 29 workers in New Zealand, here and here .

The NZ prime minister at the time hit out at the mining company, saying it "completely and utterly failed to protect its workers"

The company was found guilty of 9 charges of health and safety breaches.  Its former chief executive Peter Whittall was also charged with 12 counts of violating labour laws following the blast. Government lawyers say they would now be dropping the charges against the CEO in exchange for a payment of 3.41 million New Zealand dollars (about £1.72m), made on behalf of company officials to victims’ families.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the explosion, said that she has lost faith in the justice system. “It is just another slap in the face for the families,” she said, adding that “as far as I’m concerned, it’s blood money”.


The Price of Profit

Yesterday was Workers Memorial Day when we highlight the bloody toll capitalism inflicts upon us.
In New Zealand a coal mining company, Pike River Coal, was found guilty of nine health and safety violations over a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.
A government investigation found the company ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels in the mine and it was exposing miners to unacceptable risks as it strove to meet financial targets. Each of the charges comes with a maximum penalty of 250,000 New Zealand dollars ($211,000). But since the company is bankrupt, just who will pay the penalty?

Former chief executive Peter Whittall has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges. His case has yet to be heard.

Exploiting nature

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has approved a scheme by Scottish Coal to empty Loch Fitty, near Dunfermline in Fife, to dig up 3.4 million tonnes of coal from underneath its bed. Sepa's experts initially warned the plan would have a negative impact on people and the water environment. But internal emails show their initial advice was revised to make it more favourable to the development, at the request of senior managers.

"This looks like a desperate attempt by Scottish Coal to generate extra profits by ripping out every last ounce of coal from beneath Fife that it can," said Lang Banks, the director of WWF Scotland.

Existing mines are running out of coal, so Scottish Coal is anxious to extend them or dig new sites to meet the demand for coal to burn in power stations like Longannet on the Firth of Forth.

Joe Corrie - Rebel Poems

Joe Corrie (1894-1968), poet and playwright, was a Fife miner, and his early poems were published in the left-wing paper, the 'Forward'. He has been described as "a class-consious poet." T. S. Eliot described him as "the greatest Scots poet since Burns". Many of his poems have now been set to music by such as the Battlefield Band. The Corrie Centre in Cardenden was named after him as belated recognition of his talents.

Corrie's first plays, The Shillin' a Week-Man and The Poacher, were performed by his group of fellow miners, the Bowhill Village Players, during the 1926 General Strike. In Time o' Strife Corrie dramatised the subsequent lockout. He wrote the play about the strike (which was heading to a bitter, protracted defeat) because he was on strike. Had he not been on strike, he couldn’t have written a full length play of any kind. The play itself is a family argument about how to make the best out of defeat. The last line will resonate wit…

Workers safety?

The father of a Fife miner who was killed at a mine in New Zealand said he was "disappointed and angry" to hear the gas blast was preventable.

Scots Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews in Fife, and Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, were among 29 workers killed at the Pike River mine in 2010. The miners' bodies remain in the mine

An investigation has found multiple warnings were ignored. Safety systems at the mine were inadequate, and reports of excessive methane levels were "not heeded". Workers were exposed to "unacceptable risks" because health and safety was not adequately addressed in a drive to achieve production created the circumstances for the tragedy, the report found. "In the last 48 days before the explosion there were 21 reports of methane levels reaching explosive volumes, and 27 reports of lesser, but potentially dangerous, volumes," the report said. "The reports of excess methane continued up to the very morning of the t…

Not legal eagles but legal vultures

Two solicitors who took millions of pounds from compensation payouts given to sick miners have been struck off.
The Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal heard the men acted "unacceptably" by charging clients even though the government was paying their fees.
Beresford, 58, said last year to be Britain's highest-earning solicitor, and Smith, 52, made millions of pounds from personal injury claims for miners under the government's coal health compensation scheme. Tribunal chairman David Leverton said: "If ever there was a group of persons who needed the full care and attention from solicitors, it was these miners. Mr Beresford described himself as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, his attitude allowed himself and Mr Smith to put commercial goals before his clients' best interests."
The lawyers were also accused of not giving adequate advice and entering into contingency fee deals against their clients' best interests.The tribunal heard that up to 30% of a…

The New Gold Rush

BHP Billiton will tomorrow announce that it estimates the reserves of gold at its Australian Olympic Dam mine are more than 50% bigger than previously thought, raising speculation that it is sitting on the largest gold mine in the world. Situated 330 miles north of Adelaide, South Australia, Olympic Dam contains deposits of several minerals and is already the home to the world's largest uranium mine.
BHP shares hit record levels with feverish expectations that a recent drilling programme had vastly exceeded expectations. BHP has grown in value on the back of the China-fuelled commodity boom. Its stock market value has reached $200 billion (£99 billion), compared with $30 billion five years ago. Yesterday the share price rose 81p to £17.37.

The price of gold neared a 28-year peak yesterday as investors continued to buy into the commodity as a hedge against a falling dollar and the potential for a serious economic downturn in the US. The precious metal hit $736.05 per troy ounce at on…