It seems disasters are set to hit gold production in a big way this year. As reports come in from China about fire at a gold mine at Yantai in Shandong province killing 16 people, Chile also reported major accidents at its mines last week.
Yantai, China's largest gold-producing city, stopped production of the yellow metal following the fire at a shaft at Lingnan Gold Mine. Even though the authorities claimed that it is a temporary shut down, this is sure to impact the production of gold in the regions, which accounts for 15 per cent of China's gold output. China is the biggest producer of gold in the world.
After the accident, Yantai was forced to order safety checks at most mines. The fire is the latest in a series of Chinese mining accidents that left 61 people dead this month, adding to a slew of environmental incidents that had led to toxic and oil spills in the Ting River and at the nation's largest crude terminal. China has the world's worst coal mine safety record, with an average of about seven deaths each day in accidents last year.
The company said it doesn't expect a major impact on production. But analysts said production will be affected due to the closure and further tightening of safety measures will definitely cause delays.
Production at Zijin's Longkou Jinfeng unit, targeting output of 340 kg this year, would be affected. Jinfeng had produced 161 kg of gold in the first half, Zijin said. Work at Longkou Jintai, an exploration unit, was also halted.
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Zijin last month leaked toxic waste into the Ting River in Fujian province, poisoning almost 2,000 tons of fish, in the industry's worst spill in two years.
China's notoriously dangerous mining industry is plagued by lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency, as mines rush to meet soaring energy demand.
Even as the Chinese woes continue, Chile is also reporting more and more accidents at its mines. Chile is one of the major copper producers in the world.
Last week, 33 miners were trapped underground after an accident at a copper and gold mine near Copiapo city. And, labour union leaders complained of growing dangerousness of mining in Chile.
These type of mishaps impact production in mines in Chile. According to reports, after the earthquake in Chile a few months ago, number of mishaps in mines has gone up.
The mine, about 800 metres above sea level, is cut into a mountain and usually reached by a downward spiral ramp. The collapse cut off that route, which forced rescuers to use the mine's ventilation shafts, which are cut vertically into the rock.