Up to 100 miners have barricaded themselves with hundreds of pounds of explosives in Sardinia – at Italy’s only coal mine – demanding funds from Rome to guarantee its survival.
The miners – part of a 460-strong staff – have locked themselves 1,200 feet underground inside the Carbosulcis di Nuraxi Figus mine, just west of the capital city of Cagliari, ahead of a government meeting on the mine’s future.
Reuters reported that the miners want the pit to be transformed into a combined mining and “carbon capture” facility -- carbon capture is a process by which polluting emissions are stored underground in order to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Such a project would require a €200 million investment.
Presumably, the miners are threatening to blow themselves up in the event the government fails to continue funding its operation, RT reported.
Carbosulcis, which in 2006, was estimated to possess 600 million metric tons of coal reserves, has been struggling to be productive, raising doubts about its viability.
"We are worried that the mine may close. We are afraid for our jobs," a 54-year-old miner named Sandro Mereu, told Reuters.
"We are prepared to stay here until we hear a response from the government that secures the future of the mine. We will stay here indefinitely.”
Workers at the site have staged similar protests three times since 1984. In the last major demonstration, in 1995, the miners occupied a tunnel for more than three months.
RT noted that Sardinia once enjoyed an active mining industry, but in recent years the economic crisis that has strangled the euro zone has forced out many companies.
Alcoa, the U.S. aluminum company, has threatened to shut down its plant in Portovesme, Sardinia if it cannot locate a buyer. If that site closes, 500 jobs would vanish.