Authorities have rescued the bodies of five of the seven miners trapped in the Múzquiz mine, Coahuila, which collapsed last Friday and buried workers under tons of coal and mud. Throughout the weekend, rescue teams worked against the clock to drain the corridors of the complex that had been flooded by drilling an adjoining abandoned mine filled with water. This Wednesday they have rescued the fifth body and there are still two more to be found. Human rights organizations had denounced the precarious conditions of this property eight months ago to the director of the Federal Electricity Commission, Manuel Bartlett, and have harshly criticized these days the ignorance that the agency made them. The nationalist rhetoric promoted by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that Mexico generates its own electricity forgets tragedies like this in his speeches. The death of the Múzquiz miners is another warning of the precarious situation of the coal mines in the country.
The Pasta de Conchos Family organization, an association founded after one of the greatest mining tragedies in history, in which an explosion killed 65 workers, keeps track of the coal deaths: around 3,000 miners, of whom 100 after the Pasta de Conchos massacre. “What these figures tell us is, how many more have to die for the authorities to demand that these companies operate with the minimum requirements of protection for workers, hygiene, means, even for them to hire them legally?” says the organization’s activist, Cristina Auerbach.
Bartlett has responded that the CFE has no contract with that mine and was unaware of its situation. “The Federal Electricity Commission categorically denies that the mine where the unfortunate accident occurred in Coahuila is the CFE’s coal supplier, consequently, it was impossible for its director to be aware of the state of the mine,” the agency said in a statement. “The problem is that these mines have different social reasons: one with which they operate, another with which they contract … If they inspect well, they will see that they belong to the same owner, who also has not been detained,” notes Auerbach.
The activist pointed out this Wednesday by phone that one of the miners trapped in the Rancherías property – the town where these coal trawling mines are located, within the municipality of Múzquiz – had contacted her last year to help him denounce the miserable conditions that the workers of these “caves” lived, as they are called, “because that cannot even be called mines, they are holes that they open in the earth, in the entrances of old mines”. His name was Carlos Moreno Cervantes, one of the bodies found.
The mine that collapsed this Friday is a trailed mine, underground, where cars load and unload coal from inside. The mine had been inspected by the Ministry of Labor and reprimanded in October with measures that have not been specified by the authorities, but that did not present an imminent risk. The institution lifted the restriction in March of this year and they were in order for their operation, according to official information.
Auerbach, criticized in statements to this newspaper that “it is not an accident”, since the miners “did not have the conditions to work, neither safety equipment nor means”. “It is maddening that we have given them everything to avoid a misfortune like this and they have ignored us, we sent them a letter and photographs of the conditions of the mine. This is the worst mining, “he denounced, and completed:” They make society believe that we heroically generate electricity for the country, but the reality is that it is through precarious forms and miserable living conditions of the miners: always poor and always those who die ”.
The activist explains that a miner charges an average of 150 pesos a day, officially registered with social security, illegally they can pay some more money. But of this official amount, 70% is what each family will receive as a monthly pension for their deceased father, husband or brother, about 2,000 pesos, about 100 dollars. For the country’s biggest mining tragedy, Pasta de Conchos, also in Coahuila, families with up to three children received a pension of 3,000 pesos a month. “Who lives with it? Nobody ”, denounces Auerbach.
For the moment, the authorities have not reported any arrest of the possible person responsible for the property. The mine is owned by the Micarán company, the businessman Eduardo Morales and had already been denounced for lacking security, reprimanded in October 2020, although the restriction was lifted a few months later to operate again. The CFE hired another of its companies, Carkim Industrial, through which it channeled coal from the damaged cave, according to the newspaper. Millennium.
There are previous accidents in these coal mines, one of them registered in the Pocito Boker, also owned by Morales, in Coahuila, in July 2010. Carkim Industrial has a direct award contract to supply coal for the CFE in 2020 for an amount of 21 million pesos.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.