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Monday, September 1, 2014

mining accident in Bonanza, Nicaragua

Mankind’s lure for riches especially that of gold is boundless. ..... remember the famous ‘Mackenna's Gold’   starring Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif – a film based on novel of the same name by Heck Allen using the penname Will Henry, telling the story of how the lure of gold corrupts a diverse group of people.  Gold mining lures – and is dangerous too ... there have been mining disasters – and the news is about the accident near the town of Bonanza, which is perched on the side of a hill in a region that is home to Nicaragua's biggest gold mines. The mine caved in because of a landslide triggered by heavy downpours, early Thursday morning and took days to emerge to outside World as the site is so remote.  Bonanza is a municipality in the Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte departmentof Nicaragua. It is a small place with a population of around 19000 inhabitants. 

Nicaragua  is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordering Honduras and Costa Rica. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.  Nicaragua's abundance of biologically significant and unique ecosystems contribute to Mesoamerica's designation as a biodiversity hotspot. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century. Nicaragua achieved its independence from Spain in 1821. Since its independence, Nicaragua has undergone periods of political unrest, dictatorship, and fiscal crisis—the most notable causes that led to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic, and has experienced economic growth and political stability in recent years. Since 2007, Daniel Ortega has been the President.

The good news is that the first 11 of 24 freelance gold miners trapped by a collapse in a mine in northern Nicaragua have been rescued and crews are working to free more, officials said. The men walked out of the mine on their own as their relatives and fellow miners cheered late Friday night, more than 24 hours after a collapse at the El Comal gold and silver mine in the town of Bonanza left them cut off in a mine shaft.  A rescued miner was quoted as saying that he and some of his fellow miners saw an avalanche of mud and rock coming their way. They stuck to the walls of the mine but at least four of their co-workers were crushed by the mud and rock streaming down the shaft, he said. 

The miners were checked by paramedics and taken to a clinic in Bonanza, which is located about 420 kilometres northeast of Managua. Earlier, authorities said 20 of the 24 miners had been located and had communicated with rescuers at the El Comal mine in northern Nicaragua.    Some latest reports state that 22 out of 26 have been rescued.  Hundreds of relatives and fellow miners had gathered to pray outside the mine as rescuers lined up several ladders along a 70 metre long tunnel leading toward where the men were trapped. The mine cuts into the side of a mountain and then goes upward.  First Lady Rosario Murillo said 20 of the miners were freed late Friday, in addition to two who made their way to safety shortly after a Thursday morning collapse cut off the exit at the El Comal gold and silver mine in the town of Bonanza left them cut off in a mine shaft.

The gold and silver mine is reportedly operated by Colombia's Hemco. The trapped miners are not employees of Hemco, but rather freelancers allowed to work in the company's concession if they sell any gold they find to the firm, mining company spokesman Gregorio Downs told The Associated Press. Downs said the company had warned miners about the danger of working in the El Comal area, especially after two miners died in a rain-caused landslide there last month.  As could happen in many parts of developing countries, people are willing to take any amount of risk for a few cents.  The company, majority owned by Colombia's Mineros, says it produces more than 1,150 kilograms (37,000 troy ounces) of gold a year and is Nicaragua's 12th largest exporter.

Sad that people put their lives at risks for a living ..... one could recall that in Aug 2010,  a tunnel in the San Esteban Mine near Santiago collapsed trapping 33 workers inside at approx 700 metres / 2300 ft below the ground. It was a place dedicated to the exploitation of gold and copper in the Atacama desert of Chile. After a fortnight those trapped could establish some contact with outside world. From that time on, massive efforts are on to bring the trapped miners to earth. The Chilean President  personally supervised the operations and there was the miraculous  survival of those 33 miners for close to 70 days – rescued to the ecstasy of everybody after 69 days.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1st Sept 2014.

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