During the two weeks that Todd Russell and Brant Webb were stuck
underground, statistically speaking, around 190 Chinese coal miners
would have died.

Factually speaking, nine miners did die
of carbon monoxide poisoning, two days before the Australian miners
re-emerged. That story generates just over 50 stories when plugged into
Google News; a search for “Beaconsfield Mine” produces thousands.

Mining is the most dangerous
occupation in Australia according to the CFMEU, with the chance
of coal miners being killed over their 40-year working life estimated at one in 28.

But globally, the statistics are even grimmer. Miners represent 1% of the global work force yet 7% of global work fatalities.

Last year, the majority of South Africa’s mine fatalities came from the gold mining sector, which had 104 fatalities
out of
total industry fatalities of 202. That’s exactly two deaths a week.
In South Africa, it’s estimated that one worker dies and 12 suffer serious injuries for
every ton of gold produced.

For miners, there’s no worse place to be than down a Chinese mine. On
average, China records about 5,000 miners’ deaths a year – although analysts estimate that as many as 10,000 people die each

year in coal mines in China.

Peter Fray

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