Mining workers struggles

South Africa’s strike wave hits whole mining sector, spreads to transport

By Chris Marsden, 28 September 2012

The strike wave that began at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine is now engulfing South Africa’s platinum, gold and coal mining industries and has spread to transport and other sectors.

ANC President Zuma authorises use of South African army against miners

By Julie Hyland, 22 September 2012

As miners at the Lonmin platinum producer in Marikana returned to work Thursday, President Jacob Zuma authorised the domestic deployment of the military to deal with continued unrest in the mining sector.

Alpha Natural Resources closing eight mines, laying off 1,200

By Samuel Davidson, 21 September 2012

In making the announcement, the company stated that it plans to shift production from less profitable thermal coal to the more profitable metallurgical coal.

Marikana massacre: France’s NPA sows illusions in South African government, unions

By Anthony Torres and Alex Lantier, 21 September 2012

It took three weeks for France’s New Anti-capitalist Party to write on the massacre of 34 South African miners on August 16 at the Marikana mine.

Political and historical issues in the South African miners’ revolt

By Julie Hyland, 20 September 2012

The massacre of striking South African platinum miners and the spreading confrontation between miners and the ANC regime have exposed the reactionary character of racial and nationalist politics.

State of alert declared as unrest spreads in South Africa

By Chris Marsden, 13 September 2012

The South African army has been put on a state of high alert, amidst an escalating strike-wave involving platinum and gold miners.

More ANC leading figures embroiled in gold mines asset stripping scandal

By Eric Graham, 12 September 2012

The liquidation of the South African company Pamodzi Gold Limited led to the awarding of rights to the Orkney and Grootvlei gold mines to Aurora Empowerment Systems (AES) in 2009.

Strikes spread in South African mines

By Kate Randall, 11 September 2012

Gold Fields Ltd.’s KDC gold mine has been hit by strike of 15,000 workers, the second wildcat action at the company in less than a week.

South African miners speak on Marikana massacre

By Iqra Qalam, 11 September 2012

More than three weeks after the Marikana massacre, families are still searching for their missing siblings and husbands in hospitals and jails.

South Africa: Corruption exposed at Orkney and Grootvlei mines

By Eric Graham, 10 September 2012

Investigations into the Aurora Empowerment Systems, which has not paid workers at the Orkney and Grootvlei mines for years, have revealed a tangled and dirty web of criminality.

South Africa’s day of mourning fails to stem anger over Marikana massacre

By Julie Hyland, 25 August 2012

Anger continues to mount over the August 16 massacre of 34 striking miners at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana despite official efforts to lower tensions.

A letter on the South African NUM

25 August 2012

A South African reader responds to the August 24 perspective, “The unions, the pseudo-left and the South Africa massacre.”

South African miners defiant in face of government, company threats

By Bill Van Auken, 21 August 2012

Four days after 34 of their comrades were massacred by heavily armed police, striking South African platinum miners defied a company ultimatum to return to work or be fired.

Kentucky coal miner killed

By Naomi Spencer, 27 June 2012

A Pike County, Kentucky miner was crushed by a wall collapse Monday morning, bringing to 10 the number of US coal miners killed on the job this year.

Obama administration lauds coal giant Alpha after deadly conditions exposed

By Clement Daly, 25 June 2012

The Obama administration has intervened on behalf of energy giant Alpha after federal mine inspectors issued an “imminent danger” order against one of its mines.

US: Life-threatening violations rampant in Alpha coal mines

By Clement Daly, 12 June 2012

Last week, energy giant Alpha Natural Resources was cited by federal safety inspectors for more than 200 violations, including for hazards posing “imminent danger.”

Australia: Bowen Basin coal miners resume strike action

By Richard Phillips, 24 May 2012

Miners at Bowen Basin pits in Queensland have walked out in dispute over a new enterprise agreement.

Investigation exposes role of federal safety agency in West Virginia mine disaster

By Clement Daly, 3 April 2012

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that if the federal mine regulatory agency had enforced basic safety standards, the 2010 disaster at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine could have been prevented.

Australia: Coal companies provoke new miners’ walkouts in Queensland

By Richard Phillips, 31 March 2012

Bowen Basin coal miners struck on Tuesday following provocative new roster demands by the BHP-Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.

Superintendent charged in Upper Big Branch mine disaster

By Tom Eley, 2 March 2012

Federal attorneys have filed charges against a mine superintendent for the April 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 West Virginia coal miners.

Tennessee plant where five workers died found rife with dangers

By Naomi Spencer, 16 December 2011

An investigation by the federal Chemical Safety Board found that uncontrolled hazards and an absence of safety measures were behind a series of fatal fires at a Tennessee plant earlier this year.

Federal investigation finds Upper Big Branch mine disaster “entirely preventable”

By Clement Daly, 13 December 2011

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration released its final report last Tuesday on the Upper Big Branch mine explosion.

Justice Department drops criminal charges against Massey for deaths of 29 miners

By Samuel Davidson, 9 December 2011

The Obama administration’s Justice Department announced Tuesday that it would not press any criminal charges against Massey Energy, or its new owner, Alpha Natural Resources, arising from the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

Sixth Kentucky coal miner killed

By Samuel Davidson, 19 November 2011

A fatal accident in Harlan County, Kentucky, brings to 21 the number of US coal miners killed on the job this year, and six in little more than a month.

Another Kentucky coal miner killed

By Naomi Spencer, 10 November 2011

The death of a Kentucky miner Monday morning brings to 20 the number of US coal miners killed on the job this year.

United Mine Workers issues findings on Upper Big Branch mine disaster

By Clement Daly, 5 November 2011

The UMWA issued findings of an investigation into the April 5, 2010 disaster at Massey’s Montcoal, West Virginia mine.

Security official convicted of obstructing probe into West Virginia mine disaster

By Samuel Davidson, 2 November 2011

The security chief at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 miners were killed last April, was convicted October 26 for participating in a cover-up of longstanding safety problems in the mine.

Two Kentucky miners killed in wall collapse

By Naomi Spencer, 2 November 2011

Two miners were killed and two others were injured in a wall collapse at a western Kentucky surface mine Friday.

Two US coal miners killed

By Clement Daly, 22 October 2011

The deaths of two more miners this month bring to 17 the number of coal mine fatalities in the US this year.

Low-level Massey employee convicted in Upper Big Branch mine investigation

By Clement Daly, 7 October 2011

The conviction of a low-level Massey employee is the first produced by federal investigators looking into the massive explosion on April 5, 2010 that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine.

Two more US coal miners killed on the job

By Clement Daly, 22 August 2011

The deaths of two miners in the span of a week bring to 14 the number of US coal mine fatalities this year, and highlight the drive to increase extraction rates at small operations.

Two more US coal miners die on the job

By Clement Daly, 6 August 2011

A West Virginia miner was fatally electrocuted last week, bringing to 11 the number of coal mining deaths in 2011.

Another Kentucky coal miner killed

By Naomi Spencer, 13 July 2011

A coal miner was crushed in a powered haulage accident in an eastern Kentucky mine Monday night, bringing to nine the number of US miners killed on the job since January.

Miner killed in Harlan, Kentucky

By Naomi Spencer, 2 July 2011

A US coal miner was killed in a roof fall-in a Harlan County, Kentucky mine Wednesday.

Further evidence of lack of safety at New Zealand mine

By John Braddock, 1 July 2011

Families of miners killed in a methane explosion at the Pike River mine last November denounced successive New Zealand governments over appalling safety standards.

West Virginia coal miner killed

By Clement Daly and Naomi Spencer, 29 June 2011

A West Virginia coal miner was killed early Monday morning after being crushed in a wall collapse.

Report on US mine disaster: An indictment of American capitalism

By Jerry White, 26 May 2011

The recently released findings from an investigation into last year’s explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia expose the brutal and deadly conditions in the US coal industry.

Report reveals “corporate culture” of safety violations before fatal blast at West Virginia mine

By Samuel Davidson, 24 May 2011

An investigation into the April 2010 explosion that took the lives of 29 miners in West Virginia uncovered a “corporate culture” that placed production over safety.

Massey refused to address ventilation problems at Upper Big Branch Mine

By Samuel Davidson, 18 May 2011

Less than three weeks before the fatal explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine last April a government safety expert tried to get Massey executives to fix ongoing ventilation problems at the mine.

Body of Idaho silver miner recovered

By Naomi Spencer, 26 April 2011

On Sunday, rescuers located the body of an Idaho silver miner killed in a cave-in 10 days earlier.

Idaho silver miner missing after cave-in

By Naomi Spencer, 19 April 2011

A miner remains missing after a cave-in more than a mile underground in a northern Idaho silver mine on Friday.

One year since the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in West Virginia

By Samuel Davidson, 15 April 2011

A year after the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 coal miners, no one has been held responsible.

Massey Energy sued by families of Upper Big Branch disaster victims

By Clement Daly, 31 March 2011

Three lawsuits filed earlier this month charge Massey Energy with operating its Upper Big Branch mine in a “willful, wanton and recklessly unsafe manner” that caused the deaths of 29 miners.

Kentucky coal miner killed

By Naomi Spencer, 29 March 2011

A March 25 mining accident in eastern Kentucky claimed the fourth US coal miner of 2011.

US: Massey official charged with cover-up of Upper Big Branch mine disaster

By Clement Daly and Naomi Spencer, 4 March 2011

The security chief at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine has been charged with obstructing investigations into the explosion that killed 29 miners last year.

West Virginia teen is first US coal mining fatality of 2011

By Naomi Spencer, 1 February 2011

A 19-year-old coal miner in southwest West Virginia was killed January 27 after little more than three months on the job.

MSHA’s “working theory” of explosion that killed 29 Massey miners

By Samuel Davidson, 1 February 2011

It has been almost 10 months since an explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine disaster in Montcoal, West Virginia claimed the lives of 29 miners. MSHA is now providing its “working theory” of the disaster.

Forty-eight US miners killed in 2010 — most since 1992

By Samuel Davidson, 3 January 2011

Forty-eight coal miners were killed on the job last year, the highest toll since 1992. Hundreds of other miners have died from black lung and other respiratory diseases.

Massey CEO refuses to testify at hearing into Upper Big Branch mine disaster

By Samuel Davidson, 20 December 2010

Massey CEO Don Blankenship, who has made repeated public statements calling for a full and open investigation of the UBB disaster, rejected testifying under oath in front of mine investigators.

Growing anger over New Zealand mine deaths

By Tom Peters, 26 November 2010

One week after the initial explosion at the Pike River Coal Mine, mining experts, relatives and friends of the 29 dead miners have condemned the company’s unsafe practices and its failure to carry out a rescue operation.

Harlan, Kentucky mine worker killed, three injured in separate accidents

By Naomi Spencer, 24 November 2010

A mine worker killed Tuesday in a Harlan County, Kentucky mine brings to 47 the number of US coal mining fatalities this year.

New Zealand miners declared dead after another massive explosion

By Tom Peters, 24 November 2010

Twenty-nine coal miners, ranging in age from 17 to 62, have been declared dead following a second massive methane explosion this afternoon deep inside the Pike River Coal mine on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

US mine safety agency did not enforce regulations, audit shows

By Samuel Davidson, 7 October 2010

An audit of the federal agency in charge of overseeing safety at US coal mines found it failed for over 30 years to enforce regulations at mines with a pattern of serious safety violations.

Did Massey officials tamper with evidence?

By Samuel Davidson, 27 September 2010

More details continue to come out about the horrendous conditions that existed at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine leading up to the deadly April 5 explosion that killed 29 miners.

Another West Virginia coal miner killed

By Naomi Spencer, 3 August 2010

A roof bolter was killed July 29 in a northern West Virginia underground coal mine when a section of the wall collapsed on him, bringing to 42 the number of US coal miners killed so far this year.

The social crisis in Appalachia

Part 2: An epidemic of ill health among the poor

By Naomi Spencer, 24 July 2010

This is the second in a series of articles on the history, economy, social and environmental conditions of the Appalachian coalfields.

“When your kids go hungry—you’re going to find a way to get some money”

Homeless in Harlan, Kentucky

By a WSWS reporting team, 24 July 2010

The second in a series, the WSWS interviews a resident of Harlan, Kentucky on conditions of life in the coalfields.

Massey shut off methane detectors at deadly mine

By Samuel Davidson, 23 July 2010

Coal miners who worked at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, where a deadly blast killed 29 miners on April 5, told federal investigators that Massey foremen ordered an electrician to disable a methane detector months before the explosion occurred.

Coal miner killed in Illinois mine

By Naomi Spencer, 13 July 2010

A coal miner was killed in a southern Illinois underground mine July 9, bringing the US death toll to 41 this year. The mine, owned by billion-dollar company Peabody Energy, has a substantial history of violations.

West Virginia miner killed in Massey operation

By Naomi Spencer, 3 July 2010

An electrician was crushed by coal-hauling equipment at a Massey Energy-owned mine in West Virginia on Thursday, bringing the year’s total of US coal mining fatalities to 40—31 of them at Massey sites.

Another Kentucky coal mining fatality

By Naomi Spencer, 26 June 2010

In the span of barely a week, a second Kentucky coal miner was killed Thursday in an underground mining operation, bringing to 39 the number of coal miners killed in the US so far this year.

Kentucky coal miner killed

By Naomi Spencer, 23 June 2010

A coal miner died after being struck in the head by a steel roof jack in a Harlan County, Kentucky mine on June 16. The victim, 42-year-old James Carmack, was the 38th fatality among US coal miners this year.

Boron struggle betrayed

By Jack Cody, 1 June 2010

Hundreds of miners returned to work last week after a three-and-a-half-month lockout by the Rio Tinto group. Workers were forced to take major concessions after the struggle was isolated by the International Longshore and Warehouse union.

A wave of mine disasters

By Mike Head, 31 May 2010

Yet another mining disaster, in which 17 miners died in a reported dynamite explosion in central China last Saturday, has highlighted the ongoing sacrifice of mine workers’ lives around the world for profit and increased output.

“That place was a ticking time bomb”

Miners and families denounce Massey and government inspectors for West Virginia mine disaster

By Samuel Davidson, 28 May 2010

Coal miners and relatives of the 29 miners killed in the April 5 West Virginia explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine described the deadly conditions in the months leading up to the blast during testimony Tuesday before a congressional hearing.

Trapped miners found dead in Turkey

By Mike Head, 22 May 2010

Rescuers have reached the bodies of 28 of the coal miners who had been trapped by a huge explosion at a state-run Karadon mine, near the Turkish Black Sea port of Zonguldak

Federal officials block open hearings into West Virginia explosion

By Samuel Davidson, 12 May 2010

Lawyers representing families of the miners killed in the April 5 blast at the Upper Big Branch Mine filed suit in a US District Court in Charleston, West Virginia, seeking to overturn the decision of the Obama administration to hold closed-door interviews of witnesses.

Two miners killed in Kentucky mine collapse

By Naomi Spencer, 30 April 2010

Two miners were buried Wednesday night by a roof collapse in the western Kentucky Dotiki Mine. The mine, owned by billion-dollar coal company Alliance Resource Partners, has an extensive record of safety violations.

Senate hearing covers up role of government in West Virginia mine disaster

By Samuel Davidson, 30 April 2010

The first of several congressional hearings into the explosion at a mine in West Virginia is setting a precedent for ignoring the criminal culpability of Massey Energy, its executives and government regulators for the death of 29 miners.

Australia: Labor government rejects inquiry into impact of mining on health

By Terry Cook, 30 April 2010

A television documentary on open cut coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley in the Australian state of New South Wales has revealed deep public concern over the resultant health problems.

At memorial service for West Virginia miners

Obama preaches reconciliation with coal bosses

By Jerry White, 26 April 2010

In a eulogy for the 29 coal miners killed in the April 5 explosion in West Virginia, President Obama sought to conceal the responsibility of the mine owners and the complicity of the federal government.

Miners and friends at memorial service speak on mine explosion

By Jeff Lassahn and Samuel Davidson, 26 April 2010

Attendees at the memorial Sunday expressed their sorrow, their support for the families and friends of those who were killed, and anger at Massey Energy and federal and state regulators.

WSWS verifies Massey’s threat to fire miners who took off work to attend funerals

By Samuel Davidson, 21 April 2010

WSWS coverage of the April 5 disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, which killed 29 miners, has aroused considerable interest and even controversy.

As prices of steel-making coal rose sharply

Massey drove up production prior to West Virginia mine disaster

By Jeff Lassahn, 17 April 2010

The Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia—where 29 miners died April 5—has outsize importance in the industry. It produces top-quality, high-value metallurgical (or coking) coal, used for steel production.

Whitewash of mine disaster being prepared

Who is Davitt McAteer?

By Samuel Davidson, 16 April 2010

Earlier this week West Virgina Governor Joe Manchin announced the appointment of Davitt McAteer to conduct the state investigation into the mine disaster that killed 29 miners. His record suggests that the probe will be a whitewash of the coal operators and federal mine officials.

Federal regulatory system sanctions deadly conditions in US mines

By Samuel Davidson, 15 April 2010

Federal mine safety regulations, set up by the Bush administration and upheld by President Obama, are giving coal companies a green light to continue killing and injuring miners.

Mine disaster exposes the brutal reality of American capitalism

By Jerry White, 14 April 2010

In the nine days since the deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, evidence has continued to accumulate demonstrating the criminality of the mine’s operator and the complicity of federal regulators.

Slideshow: The Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster

By Andre Damon, 13 April 2010

On April 5, 2010, a massive explosion ripped through the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, killing 29 miners and injuring two others. The mine had been cited for hundreds of safety violations in the past year. The World Socialist Web Site sent a reporting team to the area, which spoke to dozens of workers. The following photos are by WSWS writer Andre Damon.

Slideshow: The Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster

By Andre Damon, 13 April 2010

A World Socialist Web Site reporting team spent four days in West Virginia speaking to miners and covering the disaster there.

More evidence of violations in West Virginia mine explosion

By Samuel Davidson, 13 April 2010

A huge body of evidence has already emerged that justifies the criminal prosecution of Massey CEO Don Blankenship and other top officials at Massey energy.


Deadliest US mine disaster in nearly 40 years

Families begin to bury 29 killed in West Virginia explosion

By Andre Damon and Samuel Davidson, 12 April 2010

Workers and residents in West Virginia spoke out against the mine owner, Massey Energy, including for its refusal to allow coworkers to attend the funeral of those killed.

The West Virginia mine tragedy

Miners doomed by collusion between regulators and coal companies

By Barry Grey, 10 April 2010

In the wake of Monday’s explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia, a mass of evidence has emerged of wanton and pervasive safety violations by coal giant Massey Energy, the owner of the mine.

Four more miners found dead in West Virginia explosion

Miners speak to WSWS on unsafe conditions

By Andre Damon and Samuel Davidson, 10 April 2010

The bodies of the four missing miners who had been trapped underground following Monday’s explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia were found by rescue teams early Saturday morning.

Miners speak on safety violations at Upper Big Branch Mine

By our correspondents, 10 April 2010

Coal miners spoke to the World Socialist Web Site on Friday about safety violations at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. They said that the mine’s operator routinely disregarded safety rules, and denounced regulators for failing to punish the company.

As federal officials downplay safety violations by Massey Energy

Rescue attempt suspended at West Virginia mine

By Andre Damon and Samuel Davidson, 9 April 2010

Rescue workers were forced to retreat early Thursday morning from the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, as toxic gas levels prevented them from searching for miners trapped underground.

West Virginia workers speak on mine disaster

By Andre Damon and Samuel Davidson, 9 April 2010

Miners, their family members and neighbors spoke with the World Socialist Web Site about the conditions that led to Monday’s deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia.

The West Virginia mine disaster and the collapse of the United Mine Workers

By Jerry White, 9 April 2010

The deaths of at least 25 West Virginia miners is a tragic and stark demonstration of the state of class relations in America today. It underscores the consequences of the betrayal and disintegration of the United Mine Workers union.

From the catalog of Mehring Books

Death on the Picket Line: The Story of John McCoy

History of US miners’ struggles brought to life

9 April 2010

Mehring Books is pleased to offer Death on the Picket Line: The Story of John McCoy at a special discounted price. Published in 1990, this 68-page illustrated, perfect-bound pamphlet provides valuable background on the historic struggles of coal miners in the United States.

Details emerge of deadly conditions prior to West Virginia mine explosion

By Jerry White, 8 April 2010

Three days after at least 25 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, miners are beginning to come forth with details of how Massey Energy routinely disregarded safety regulations at the mine.

West Virginia mine disaster kills 25, 4 missing

By David Walsh, 6 April 2010

An explosion in a West Virginia coal mine Monday afternoon killed at least 25 miners. At the time of this writing, 4 other miners were still missing.

Locked-out California Borax mine workers oppose concessions

1 March 2010

The WSWS spoke with Rio Tinto miners participating in a rally in Boron, California on February 24. Some 570 Borax mine workers in the city have been locked out for four weeks after workers opposed contract concessions.

The United Mine Workers of America and the resurgence of black lung disease

By Jerry White, 12 January 2010

The return of high levels of black lung disease is, above all, a testament to the treacherous role of the United Mine Workers of America.

US: White House seeks to block new environmental regulations on coal ash

By Hiram Lee, 12 January 2010

The Obama administration has joined with the energy companies in seeking to block new regulations that would designate coal ash as toxic waste.

Coal mine blast in Indonesia kills at least 32

By Carol Divjak, 24 June 2009

A gas explosion at a coal mine in the Sawahlunto district of West Sumatra on June 16 killed at least 32 people. The tragedy is the outcome of the appalling safety standards that prevail in much of the Indonesian mining industry.

Social reality in an Australian mining town

By Joe Lopez, 11 September 2008

One of the great myths of the Australian mining boom has been that prosperity would “trickle down” from the mining companies to the rest of society, starting with the workers who have flocked to the mines, mostly in Western Australia, hoping to secure big pay packets.

Global downturn begins to puncture Australian mining boom

By Mike Head, 3 September 2008

Since July, definite signs have emerged that Australia’s mining boom, a major factor in the country’s much touted economic growth during the past decade, has started to crumble under the weight of the world economic slowdown. Mineral export prices have begun to turn. The London Metal Exchange Index of six base metals, including copper, zinc and nickel, fell more than 20 percent from a peak of 4,400 in March to 3,400 in early August.

Utah mine to be sealed, entombing missing miners

By Samuel Davidson, 24 August 2007

The Washington Post reported Thursday that mine owner Bob Murray had decided to end production at the Crandall Canyon Mine in central Utah where six coal miners were trapped in an August 6 cave-in and to seal the mine.

Relatives of trapped Utah miners denounce mine owner, safety officials

By Barry Grey, 21 August 2007

Relatives of six miners trapped 1,500 feet below ground at the Crandall Canyon mine in east central Utah made a statement to the press on Sunday, 13 days after the mine caved in, to express outrage over the decision of the mine owners and federal mine safety officials to effectively abandon attempts to rescue the men.

Three rescuers killed at site of Utah mine disaster

By Jerry White, 18 August 2007

The search for six trapped miners in Utah was halted indefinitely after a cave-in at the Crandall Canyon Mine Thursday night caused the deaths of three workers involved in the rescue effort. Two of the men—Brandon Kimber and Dale Black—were Crandall Canyon miners searching for their missing comrades, while the third, Gary Jensen, was an employee of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Letters on the Utah mine disaster

17 August 2007

The following is a selection of recent letters sent to the World Socialist Web Site concerning its coverage of the Utah mine disaster.