April’s top stories: explosion kills 13 in China, Metso to invest $20bn in 5 years

30 April 2014 (Last Updated April 30th, 2014 18:30)

A coal mine explosion in China's Yunnan province kills 13, Metso announce plans to invest $20bn while Vale gets court backing in Brazil and Rio Tinto pulls out of Canada's controversial Pebble project. Mining-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from April 2014.

April’s top stories: explosion kills 13 in China, Metso to invest $20bn in 5 years

vale brazil

Coal mine explosion kills 13 in Qujing, China

An explosion in an underground coal mine in Fuyuan County, Qujing, in the Yunnan province of south-west China killed 13 people.

The incident occurred inside a shaft of the Hongtutian coal mine in the early hours of 21 April.

A total of 56 people were working in the mine at the time of the accident; 42 escaped without injuries and one person was reported as missing, according to the China State Administration of Work Safety.

The privately-owned Hongtutian is properly licensed for operation, reports Xinhua, citing the Fuyuan county Government.

Brazilian court favours Vale in double taxation dispute

Brazil's Superior Justice Tribunal, the last court of appeal before the Supreme Court, ruled in favour of Vale mining company in the $10bn foreign taxation dispute with the Brazilian Government.

vale carajas

In 2013, Vale was forced to sign an agreement to pay Brazilian tax authorities $10bn, as part of settlement with the Brazilian Government for profits the company earned from overseas units between 2002 and 2013.

According to Vale and other Brazilian businesses, in spite of having paid the tax to foreign governments, the Brazilian Government was claiming tax on subsidiaries, forcing them to pay twice.

Indian court lifts ban on iron ore mining in Goa

The Supreme Court of India lifted the 18 month old ban on iron ore mining in Goa, and limited the production rate to 20 million tonnes (Mt) a year.

The ban was set by the apex court in October 2012, following a report by Justice MB Shah Commission, which said that illegal mining in Goa had incurred a loss of Rs350bn ($5.76bn) in the past 12 years.

Following the report, the Supreme Court banned mining in 90 state mines and carried out investigations into operations.

However, the ban in Goa and similar bans in Karnataka, decreased India's iron ore exports by 85% or 100Mt in the last two years.

Peru to spend $35m in Madre de Dios due to illegal mining

madre de dios

The Peruvian Government, led by President Ollanta Humala, plans to invest $35m in strengthening the development of the Madre de Dios region in the south-eastern part of the country, which has been affected by illegal mining operations.

Humala was quoted by Andina as saying: "We are creating a development fund with PEN100m ($35m), we are evaluating the creation of a comprehensive project for Madre de Dios, because we want to recover our Amazon."

Humala claimed that illegal mining destroyed a large portion of the Amazon rainforest and caused mercury contamination, and added that the development projects will help preserve the Amazon rainforest.

Rio Tinto divests stake in controversial Pebble mine

Rio Tinto announced it would divest its stake in the Pebble mine prospect in south-west Alaska and donate the shares to two Alaskan charitable foundations.

The mine's development caused controversy over fears the project could endanger salmon and other fisheries in the Bristol Bay region.

Natural Resources Defense Council western director Joel Reynolds said that Rio Tinto's donation of its interest in the Pebble Mine to local charities is the latest major blow to the project, and good news for the people of Bristol Bay.

"By abandoning its 19.1% interest in the Pebble mine, the company has confirmed that the risks of the project are too great and the opposition of the region's residents too strong," Reynolds said.

US MSHA issues new rules to cut black lung disease

The US Department of Labor agency The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) finalised new rules to reduce cases of black lung disease, which is caused by miners being exposed to respirable dust in underground and surface coal mines.

black lung

The final rule is part of the department's initiative titled, End Black Lung - Act Now!, to completely eliminate lung diseases among miners.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), since 1968, the disease has killed more than 76,000 miners and has forced the government to pay out more than $45bn in federal compensation benefits to coal miners who have been disabled by black lung diseases.

Mine explosion in Ukraine kills seven miners

Seven miners were killed and one injured on 11 April when an explosion caused by leaking gas tore through a coal mine located near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

The accident occured when 52 miners were working at a depth of 1,300m at the Skochinsky mine, according to Reuters.

Ukraine Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told parliament in the capital Kiev that there were violations of safety regulations.

An inquiry was formally opened by the prosecutor general's office to discover the circumstances of the explosion.

Metso to invest €20bn in mining projects over next five years

Finland-based technology, automation and services provider Metso outlined its plans to invest more than €20bn in mining projects over the next five years.

As part of the plans, the company will open new mining service centres in Peru and Mexico, with initial investments worth a total of €6m.

In April, Metso opened its new service centre in Peru's Arequipa, to bolster its mining services in South America, and provide access and direct contact with the biggest mining companies in the area.

Metso has more than 50 global service centres and is building new centres in Mesa, Arizona, US, and in Labrador City in Canada.