Random Analytics

Charts, Infographics & Analytics. No Spinning the Data. No Juking the Stats

Category: Mining

Random Analytics: Australian Mining Employment (Aug 2014)

Mining continues to play an important part in the overall economy of Australia. For all of the discussion about the sector many people don’t realise that mining only employs 264,400 (source: ABS). This is just a fraction of Australia’s total labour force and even that number is often conflated given that many who work in mining are employed on infrastructure or services activities rather than directly in operations.

Each month I spend some time collating stories from a wide range of industry and media sources to build some analytics around the current state of mining employment in Australia. The month of August 2014 was quieter than previous months when more than 3,000 jobs were lost in June and another 1,000+ in July yet at the end of August we still saw more jobs lost than gained.

Here are the charts for Australian Mining Employment through to the end of August 2014.

1 - MiningJobsByState_Infographic_Aug2014_140901

The opening infographic looks at total job gains and losses by State or Territory for the month of August. Where a job cannot be affixed to a certain site then the losses or gains are attributed to Australia (Non Specified).

Data-Points: Queensland was the only state to lose more jobs than it gained, while New South Wales and Western Australia picked up a small amount each. Two Australian companies, ResCo and Bluestone Global, cut 330 staff across the country.

2 - MiningGainsLosses_Chart_140901

The first employment chart looks at the previous 24-months from a total mining employment gain and loss perspective. The positive employment numbers are split into those that reflect infrastructure (tan) and operational (blue) gains. Job losses are then split into operational (red) and mining services (maroon). Mining services can include mining specific service centres, distribution, back-office functions and transport (thanks to learitee from the Australian Mining online community for the suggestion).

Data-Points: All of the 520 job gains in August were operational including the Baralaba North Coal expansion (QLD, Coal, 200); Maules Creek (NSW, Coal, 100) and I’ve included the 120 staffers at the recently opened QCLNG Gas Operations Hub. On the minus side Peabody Energy cut 350 staff from Burton Coal (QLD) including 100 contractors by text message and Glencore cut another 100 from its Newlands Coal (QLD) site.

3 - MiningResourceGainsLosses_Chart_140901

The next employment chart looks in more detail at the main resource types (Iron Ore, Coal, Gold/Copper, Zinc/Lead/Nickel, CSG/LNG and Uranium) by either a job gain or a loss.

Data-Points:

  • Although Coal gained 300-jobs it also lost 466 making this the 26th consecutive month of losses in that resource type;
  • Across the six resource types there was actually a gain of 6-jobs overall.

4 - MiningSectorSentiment_Chart_140901

The last chart tracks employment gains and losses sentiment and is now back dated to October 2011.

Data-Points: Sentiment took a slightly negative turn this month even with a lot of positive news including final approvals for Adani’s Carmichael Coal (QLD) and other smaller sites. With iron ore now touching on $80pmt during the month it has been hard to generate much good news in the West and Venture Minerals Riley Iron Ore (TAS) has deferred its project claiming approvals delays on top of poor pricing.

Another interesting point is that now I’ve pushed back the sentiment to Q4 2011 you can now see a lengthy period of good sentiment. That period of positive sentiment represented the sustained period of growth following the global recession stimulus package implemented by the Chinese several years before.

Juking the Stats (August 2014)

WorleyParsons again cut a significant amount of jobs across its global network. Recent news reports are stating they cut 1,700 jobs this year yet my research tells me the number is more likely to be 1,900. Furthermore this is the latest in a tranche of cuts and I believe they are close to cutting 4,800 since late 2012. WorleyParsons always discuss global job-cuts but given that most of their losses are currently occurring in Australia I suspect the bulk of recent layoffs would be amongst Australian employees. No journalist that I can see has put that question to them.

Summary

Not the best month but neither was it the worst. I continue to see trouble brewing if the iron ore price remains at $80pmt so I would be keeping a weather-eye on that over the next couple of months.

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The Worsening Fatality Statistics in Australian Mining

For those that closely follow the Australian Mining Sector it will come as no surprise that 2014 is emerging as one of the worst in terms of safety that we have seen in a generation. According to SafeWork Australia in the first six months of this year there were 11 notifiable fatalities in the mining sector, which according to my calculations currently equates to a Worker Fatality Rate (WFR) of 28.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers. To give that some historical context the WFR for all Australian workers in 2013 was 1.64 fatalities per 100,000 workers.

2 - MiningFatalities_2003~2014

The first chart details the amount of work related fatalities by year since 2003. Figures exclude death by iatrogenic injuries, natural causes not related to work, disease, injuries sustained while overseas or suicide. The 2014 numbers are correct to 8 August with the 2013 and 2014 numbers reflecting the more comprehensive Industry of Workplace statistics (with thanks to the statistics team at SafeWork Australia for clarifying the differences).

Since the start of 2014 I have started to closely track employment, automation and fatalities as the three key indicators on the health of the mining sector. Within a few weeks I knew that mining safety would be a big story as a number of single fatalities occurred during January and February followed up by an underground collapse in April which killed two miners at the Austar Coal Mine .

Yet, a heightened fatality count in the mining industry isn’t the only story here.

Initially out of ignorance to how the industry and SafeWork Australia tracks its work related fatalities I started to build up a personal database of mining fatalities which also included those who have died of natural causes (on-site but not work related), from suicide, fatalities in overseas Australian miners and more recently those who could be considered Lifestyle Miners.

1 - MiningRelatedFatalities_2014

The second chart looks at Mining and Mining Related deaths of Australians in 2014.The WFR is calculated only on the official SafeWork Australia figures (correct as at 8 Aug 2014).

The key data point in the chart is the inclusion of known suicides. In June The West Australian mining industry was left reeling when an onsite incident led to the death of one employee and the possible offsite death of another. This incident has been followed up by two more probable onsite suicides amongst Pilbara FIFO workers. The recent tragedies come about as the District Coroner for the Pilbara region referred a number of 2013 deaths by suicide amongst FIFO workers to the WA State Coroner for a possible inquest.

It’s not all bad news though and I was heartened by news that AngloGold Ashanti, who were at the centre of the recent multiple tragedy in the Pilbara have in the past week signed up to the FIFO Families Social Support and Education Program.

In summary, I believe the mining industry must face the issue of mental health and suicide head-on. As far as I am concerned, if a miner dies by his or her own hand onsite should be treated in exactly the same way as if it were a work related fatality including the provision of industry wide data and statistics on the subject, more education to employees and their families and if required, seeking help from appropriate resources and organisations.

 

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. Help is also available via Rural Link (1800 552 002), the Suicide Call Back Line (1300 659 467) and online resources can be found at BeyondBlue.

This article was originally published on MiningIQ.
Read the original article.

Data Sources

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics. 6291.0.55.003 – Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, May 2014. Accessed 11 Aug 2014.
[2] SafeWork Australia. Worker fatalities. Accessed 11 Aug 2014.
[3] SafeWork Australia. Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2013. SafeWork Australia. 2014. Pg: iii-vii.

Random Analytics: Australian Mining Employment (to July 2014)

Mining continues to play an important part in the overall economy of Australia. For all of the discussion about the sector many people don’t realise that mining only employs a fraction of Australia’s workforce (currently just 264,400 source: ABS) and that many in the industry work on the construction rather than the operational side.

Each month I spend some time collating stories from a wide range of industry and media sources to build some analytics around the current state of mining employment in Australia. Here are the charts for Australian Mining Employment through to the end of July 2014.

1 - MiningJobsByState_Infographic_Jun2014_140801

The opening infographic looks at job gains and losses by State or Territory for the month of July.

Data-points: After a horror month in June when 1,592 jobs were lost Western Australia has picked up some employment this month with announcements by Atlas Iron (+200) and Transalta (LNG +250). For the rest of the country the numbers were all in the negative, even in New South Wales which gained 450 (Whitehaven Coal) but lost 915 overall including big numbers in the Hunter Valley. Overall the nation gained 920 and lost 2,043 mining jobs.

2 - MiningGainsLosses_Chart_140801

The second employment charts looks at the previous 24-months from a total mining employment gain and loss perspective. The positive employment numbers are split into those that reflect infrastructure (tan) and operational (blue) gains. Job losses are represented in red.

The biggest data-point for July 2014 was that the big numbers seen last month reduced slightly as those some of those jobs finalised in July and that we are now in the third month of 1,000+ job losses and the second consecutive month of 2,000+ job losses. The last day of the month was especially bad with 400 Hastings Deering jobs going in Queensland and another 95 coal positions being axed by BHP in NSW.

It wasn’t all bad news as some large operational announcements, like the Whitehaven Coal announcement of 450 jobs at its Maules Creek mine offset some of the big losses being announced in the Hunter Valley.

3 - MiningResourceGainsLosses_Chart_140801

The next employment chart looks in more detail at the main resource types (Iron Ore, Coal, Gold/Copper, Zinc/Lead/Nickel, CSG/LNG and Uranium) by either a job gain or a job loss.

Two key data points:

  • Although there were some gains in both coal and iron ore they were much smaller than the operational jobs lost in both resource types;
  • Coal has lost operational jobs now for 18 consecutive months (the last recording of no job losses was in Jan 2013).

4 - MiningSectorSentiment_Chart_140801

The last chart tracks employment gains and losses sentiment and is now updated back to December 2011.

Although the employment news is quite bad the sentiment is actually positive. I’ve seen this occur before. If you look at the difference between Jul 2013 (-24) and August 2013 (+3) you see a big jump in sentiment. This occurred during last year’s commodity crash as government pushed through mining approvals (which is a positive indicator even though it might not include any immediate employment outcomes). So although there are continued job cut announcements they are being largely offset (in terms of sentiment) by positive future announcements, such as the Adani announcement for the build of Carmichael Coal in Queensland.

Juking the Stats (July 2014)

Silver Lake Resources is set to cut more jobs as the gold miner closes its Lakewood Mill but didn’t announce how many would go or when.

Summary

It’s been another bad month for mining employment which came as a surprise as often the first month in a Financial Year is a chance for companies and governments to highlight some good news or to make positive announcements. This is reflected in the data where job losses outweigh job gains but sentiment is improving.

Saying that governments don’t create jobs, businesses do and with so much infrastructure finalising and the narrative squarely fixed on productivity I’ll suggest that you will see more negative than positive news in coming months.

Random Analytics: Australian Mining Employment Update (to end June 2014)

Some years ago while working within the Workforce Planning fraternity I quickly understood that June was a tough month for employment, no matter what sector you either guided or worked in. It might have something to do with the seasons given that companies traditionally cut staff in the coldest months. Alternately it might be impacted on the business cycle. After more than a decade in Workforce Planning I’ve found that, whatever your view, business reflects more pragmatic ends.

Last month I suggested that June is often a horror month for mining employment.

My prediction was borne out (no matter the reason). What I didn’t guess was that the job gains versus the job losses would be the worst in more than two-years, potentially making June 2014 the worst month in mining employment since the commencement of the Global Recession (effectively Nov/Dec 2008).

Here are the charts for Australian Mining Employment through to the end of June 2014.

1 - MiningJobsByState_Infographic_Jun2014_140701

 

The opening infographic looks at job gains and losses by State or Territory for the month of June 2014.

Data-points: All key mining states (with the exception of the Northern Territory) have lost significant numbers of operational mining (human) capital. The only positive is that Tasmania picked up an additional 50-positions.

2 - MiningGainsLosses_Chart_140701

The first of my mining employment charts looks at the previous 24-months from a mining employment gain and loss perspective. The positive employment numbers are split into those that reflect infrastructure (tan) and operational (blue) gains. Job losses are represented in red.

The biggest data-point for June 2014 is that the losses in employment are the greatest in two-years, effectively making June 2014, officially, the worst month for two years but, in effect, the worst month for mining employment since the Global Recession which kicked off in Nov/Dec 2008.

3 - MiningSectorGainsLosses_Chart_140701

 

The next employment chart looks in more details at the main resource types (Iron Ore, Coal, Gold/Copper, Zinc/Lead/Nickel, CSG/LNG and Uranium) by either a job gain or a job loss.

Of the 3,939 job losses for the month of June the key points are:

  • 100% were operational job losses (effectively, zero in construction);
  • 79% were included in my tally of key resources;
  • 37.5% of the total operational losses in June were in the Coal sector, the 24th month of consecutive losses in that sector;
  • 0% of the losses were in mining construction.

It should also be noted that the figures above do not include projected job cuts from BHP Billiton who are currently reviewing their iron ore business in West Australia.

4 - MiningSectorSentiment_Chart_140701

The last chart tracks employment gains and losses sentiment.

Given that I haven’t commented on this chart for some time the key points are that August –November 2012 and Q4 FY 2012/2013 plus July 2013 were very negative times for mining employment (effectively corresponding with declining commodity prices). We are currently undergoing a similar period with soft mineral pricing from late 2013 through to even more depressed prices in the last six weeks of the financial year.

One last point on the uptick in June 2014. There were lots of positive announcements for mining in June from government (i.e. positive EIS announcements) but little in the way of immediate positive employment benefits.

Juking the Stats (June 2014)

Whitehaven Coal is cutting jobs at its coal handling and preparation plant at Gunnedah in response to “tough” coal market conditions. At the same time they are not releasing much in the way of details or numbers of the people they are putting out of work and potentially on the bench for an extended time. I look forward to a future update.

Even Money Prediction

After two years of consecutive coal mining employment losses due to depressed thermal and metallurgical coal prices the continued low iron ore pricing will see a similar (and consecutive) drip feed of employment decline in that resource group.

Random Analytics: Australian Mining Employment Update (May 2014)

For a number of professional and personal reasons I have not completed, nor updated my Mining Workforce Planning Scan since September 2013 (some ten months ago). As it happens an article by Australian Mining last week reminded me that it is something I should have a look at again, especially given the recent bad news in regard to mining employment. 2014: Mining jobs cut so far… Excerpt:

Shaky commodity prices and the end of the boom have resulted in a bad year for job losses, and BHP and Rio have warned of more to follow. Cutbacks have ranged from small belt-tightening measures, such as 36 job losses at Illawarra Coal, to the level of catastrophic collapse such as when mismanaged contractor Forge Group folded leaving 1300 out of work early this year.

Coal has been the worst hit in mining, with Vale announcing the closure of all operations in the Hunter Valley for care and maintenance, among a series of other cutbacks by BHP and Rio Tinto. Queensland has also suffered, with Queensland Resources Council president Michael Roche saying that 10 per cent of mines in the state are now in a “very precarious position”.

Industry analysts have blamed oversupply on the global market for the plunge in the price of coal, with hard-coking coal having dropped to $US120 per tonne from $US330 in 2011. Iron ore has also suffered price-wise, falling from $US135 per tonne down to $US110 in April; however the industry seems to have escaped any major job losses.

There is no doubt that after that article was written the news got worse with further cuts, especially in New South Wales coal mines. With iron ore falling another $15 to just above $95 at the end of May how long before we see another round of severe job cuts in the Pilbara similar to September 2012?

The Australian article then lists a large number of job losses in 2014. But what do these job losses look like compared to job gains across the last 12-months. Also given that Australia has become so currently reliant on mineral exports such as iron ore, coal and future reliant on growth in exports of LNG and Uranium how are job gains or losses looking for these resource types.

Re-commencing the first of a monthly series in Mining Employment updates here is a look at how that story from Australian Mining translates into two charts.

1 - MiningGainsLosses_Chart_140601

The first chart looks at the previous 12-months from a mining employment gain and loss perspective. The positive employment numbers are split into those that reflect infrastructure (tan) and operational (blue) gains. Job losses are represented in red.

The obvious take away from this chart is that outside of August and September 2013 the losses have far outweighed the gains, with job cuts underrepresented to some extent as some companies chose to supress actual details. The data for May includes:

  • 392 operational jobs added;
  • 1,000 infrastructure jobs added;
  • 1,944 jobs lost.

2 - MiningSectorGainsLosses_Chart_140601

The second chart attempts to breakdown the job gains and losses by key resource types (Iron ore, Coal, Gold, Copper/Zinc, CSG/LNG & Uranium). Similar to the previous chart the only period of overall job growth occurred in these resource types happened between July and September 2013. The May details were:

  • Iron Ore: 120 lost;
  • Coal: 350 added and 828 lost;
  • Gold: Newcrest opened the Cadia East Gold Mine (see Juking the Stats) and 94 lost.

Juking the Stats (May 2014)

The most notable manipulator of employment information in May was Newcrest which opened its Cadia East Gold Mine with the assistance of NSW Premier Mike Baird. The mine is expected to support 1,900 direct and indirect jobs (source: MineWeb). No doubt it has created some employment but given that Newcrest NEVER shares it job loss data (Telfer July 2013 and November 2013 most recently) and its financials have been less than satisfactory I felt that conflating direct and indirect employment might be a way to also conflate its entire Cadia Valley Operations footprint). I have requested further details directly from Newcrest and am awaiting a reply before including Gold employment numbers for May.

Other Jukers include:

  • Perilya who ended their MacMahon contract which will result in job losses but no specifics were provided;
  • BHP Billiton has confirmed that there will be job losses (a source suggests in the hundreds) at Worsley Alumina but have not confirmed details.

Final Observation(s)

May/June tend to be months where companies clean house, especially around employment so June may prove to be another awful month for further job cut announcements. On that note, I will return next month with updated employment charts and a revised employment sentiment chart which will hopefully add another dataset for your consideration.

Random Analytics: China Mining Fatalities (August 2013)

Xinhua had some interesting (and sobering statistics) on mining casualties. They include:

  • Mine accidents killed 37 workers for every 100-million metric tonnes of coal produced in 2012, down from 56.4 for 2011 but well above the US which reported 1.9 in that same year;
  • 1,384 fatalities occurred in Chinese coal mines in 2012, down from 1,973 in 2011 and 2,433 in 2010;
  • 93% of coal gas blasts were caused by poor ventilation.

China is acknowledged by many to be the most dangerous place on Earth to work in mining, especially when it comes to coal mining.

Currently updated to the end of the first week in September here is a look at the major incidents in the mining sector in China as reported by Xinhua and other media outlets.

Infographic

  1 - ChinaMiningDeathsInfographic_130909                     

There have been 46-major incidents which have been reported by Xinhua. These incidents have recorded 446 confirmed fatalities and 236 injuries. 54-persons were reported as missing without confirmation of their subsequent rescue so the fatality count could be as high as 500.

As shown above Coal is the most dangerous resource to mine in China with 38-incidents (83%) and 320-deaths (72%). Copper was the second most dangerous resource by numbers with just two-incidents (4%) but 86-deaths (19%). Incidents in gold, sulphur and oil extraction accounted for the rest of the balance.

When it comes to the cause of major incidents which result in fatalities gas blasts make up slightly more than half of the current total with 18-incidents (39%) and 225-deaths (51%). Landslides were the second leading cause with 4-incidents (9%) and 103-deaths (23%) while poison gas also had 4-incidents (9%) but just 41-deaths (9%).

Other causes include flood (7-incidents, 20-deaths), mine collapse (4-incidents, 18-deaths), accidental explosive discharges (3-incidents, 17-deaths), fire (2-incidents, 15-deaths), electrocution (1-incident, 5-deaths), oil explosion (1-incident, 2-deaths). Two incidents (4-deaths) have an unknown cause.

There has been a lot of winter rain in China which has caused severe flooding in some parts of the country and increased the risk profile of landslides and flooding.

Another interesting data point is that at least seven incidents and 60-deaths can be confirmed in illegal mining operations.

Fatalities by Province

2 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyProvince_130909

The above infographic is the breakdown of incidents and fatalities by Province.

Fatalities by Month

3 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyMonth_130909

The final graph looks at reported mining deaths by month including provisional numbers for the current month. I have split the graph to show confirmed fatalities and those still missing at the time of the most recent incident reporting. It should be noted that often Chinese media will report a major incident but do not do follow-up updates.

To August the major incident average is 5.5 per month and the fatality average ranged from 54 to 60.75 (if you include those reported as missing).

To date the three most significant mining disasters of 2013 include:

  1. Jiama Copper Gold Polymetallic Landslide (29 March 2013): On a Friday morning a three kilometre landslide with more than 2-million cubic metres of rock and debris buried the Jiama Copper Gold Polymetallic company facility located within the Tibet Autonomous Zone and 83-workers who were onsite at the time. More than 1,000 first responders attended the scene along with 129 pieces of plant but unfortunately there were no survivors.
  2. Babao Coal Mine Gas Blasts (29 March & 1 April 2013): On the same day as the Jiama incident in Tibet a gas blast ripped through the Babao Coal Mine in Jilin Province killing 36 and wounding 12. At the time the company underreported the incident. The provincial government put an immediate halt on production for safety inspections but the mine management disregarded the order and sent further work crews into the shaft. A subsequent explosion occurred 3-days later killing a further 17 and wounding eight bringing the combined disaster total to 53-dead and 19 wounded. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) conducted investigations of the mine and found that coal had self- ignited and there were a lack of fire-preventing measures in place all caused by poor management practices. Senior managers have since been prosecuted, as have officials including the local mayor and members of the Work Safety Bureau.
  3. Taozigao Coal Mine Gas Blast (11 May 2013): As 108 unauthorised workers toiled in the Taozigao Coal Mine in Sichuan Province a gas blast erupted killing 28 and wounding 18. This incident is the largest known illegal mining disaster of 2013.

The most recent incident was at the Yangliutan Coal Mine in Guizhou Province, South West China when five workers were killed by electrocution and another three were hospitalised.

Final Thoughts

This analysis can only scratch the surface of what is going on in the Chinese mining industry.

A commonality of the 46 incidents reported by Xinhua was that they covered accidents which involved three or more persons. Thus, a huge amount of individual deaths and injuries that can happen on any mine in any part of the world including Australia must surely go unreported. There is also no way to validate this data against a Chinese regulator. In all fairness to the Chinese it is also difficult to get immediate injury and fatality data from Australian mining regulators and Work Cover entities.

Another factor here is illegal mining. To date at least seven incidents and 60-deaths occurred in illegal mines which have subsequently required a major rescue effort. How many unknown accidents and tragedies have gone unreported?

While China remains the most power hungry nation on the planet one unfortunate (yet certain) point can be taken from this analysis.

There will be more tragedies.

 

Note: I also complete a monthly Australian Mining Workforce Planning Scan. If you are interested you can find it here: Random Analytics: Mining Workforce Planning Scan (August 2013).

Random Analytics: Mining – A Dangerous Business (China to 24 July 2013)

Xinhua had some interesting (and sobering statistics) on mining casualties. They include:

  • Mine accidents killed 37 workers for every 100-million metric tonnes of coal produced in 2012, down from 56.4 for 2011 but well above the US which reported 1.9 in that same year;
  • 1,384 fatalities occurred in Chinese coal mines in 2012, down from 1,973 in 2011;
  • 93% of coal gas blasts were caused by poor ventilation.

China is acknowledged by many to be the most dangerous place on Earth to work in mining, especially when it comes to coal mining.

Here is an updated analysis of Chinese incidents resulting in significant casualties as reported by official Chinese media sources through to 24 July 2013.

Fatalities by Province

1 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyProvince_130725

To date there have been 40-major incidents which have been reported by Xinhua. This includes 411-deaths and 229-injuries. Due to a lack of follow-up reporting by Xinhua and the severity of Chinese mining accidents there are also 47-missing persons, many of whom should be considered as deceased.

The single largest incident was that of a landslide in Tibet which buried 83 from the Jiama Copper mine under 2-million cubic metres of mud and rock on the 29th March. This single incident also confirmed Tibet as the province with the most confirmed fatalities to date.

The South West province of Guizhou had the most reported incidents with seven separate incidents and a combined fatality count of 70. The most serious incident from Guizhou was a colliery gas blast at the Machang mine which left 25-dead and a further 20-injured.

Both North East and South West Regions have recorded 11-incidents each. The South West Region (which includes Tibet) had the worst data, so far recording 195-deaths. The North East had 114-deaths.

The most recent incident reported by Xinhua was the death of 10 sulphur miners in Chengcheng County, Shaanxi who were killed when a fire broke out on the 24th July 2013.

Note: The infographic was created using Tableau Public.

Fatalities by Resource

2 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyResource_130725

Coal continues to be the most dangerous resource to mine in China with 292-deaths or 71% of all reported fatalities. Additionally, with 33 out of the 40 incidents where the resource was known attributed to coal it has dominated the news representing 82.5% of all reported incidents.

Copper was the second most dangerous resource by numbers with 86-deaths (20.9%) but only two incidents (5%). Although we are just over half-way through the year I believe that percentile will come down further given that most of fatalities from copper mining came from a single incident (the Tibetan landslide) which even by Chinese standards was unprecedented.

Other commodities with reported deaths include gold (2.4%), sulphur (2.4%) and oil (0.5%). There have been two incidents and 11-deaths that had no details of the resource being extracted.

Fatalities by Month

3 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyMonth_130725

The final graph looks at reported mining deaths by month including provisional numbers for the current month. I have split the graph to show confirmed fatalities and those still missing at the time of the latest reporting. Often Chinese media do not follow-up on previous incidents.

To June the incident average is 5.7 per month and the fatality average was ranged between 62.5 to 69.2 (if you include the missing). With three incidents which claimed more than 25 lives each, including the Tibetan landslide which killed 83, March was the worst month on record for 2013.

Final Thoughts

This analysis can only scratch the surface of what is going on in the Chinese mining industry.

A commonality of the 40 incidents reported by Xinhua was that they covered accidents which involved three or more persons. Thus, a huge amount of individual deaths and injuries that can happen on any mine in any part of the world including Australia must surely go unreported. There is also no way to validate this data against a Chinese regulator. In all fairness to the Chinese it is also difficult to get immediate injury and fatality data from Australian mining regulators and Work Cover entities.

Another factor here is illegal mining. To date at least six incidents and 54-deaths occurred in illegal mines which have subsequently required a major rescue effort. How many unknown accidents and tragedies have gone unreported?

While China remains the most power hungry nation on the planet one unfortunate (yet certain) point can be taken from this analysis.

There will be more tragedies.

 

—————————–

Update (8/07/2013)

  • Updated all infographics and some text with an additional six incidents between 6 June and 8 July 2013.

Update (25/07/2013)

  • Updated all infographics and some text with an additional three incidents between 9 – 24 July 2013.

Random Analytics: Mining – A Dangerous Business (China to 14 May 2013)

On Saturday 11 May 2013 around 2pm in the afternoon more than 100 Chinese miners toiled in the depths of the Taozigao coal mine in Sichuan province unaware that within minutes they would be subject to a gas explosion brought on by a build-up of gasses from poor ventilation in an illegal operation. 28 would subsequently die and another 18 would be wounded, at least eight critically. Barely 24-hours prior to this incident another gas blast would kill 12 and injure two in the neighbouring province of Guizhou.

Dual incidents of this magnitude were enough to get global press including a mirrored story via Australian Mining which reported the initial incident.

A previous Xinhua story had some interesting (and sobering statistics). They include:

  • Mine accidents killed 37 workers for every 100-million metric tonnes of coal produced in 2012, down from 56.4 for 2011 but well above the US which reported 1.9 in that same year;
  • 1,384 fatalities occurred in Chinese coal mines in 2012, down from 1,973 in 2011;
  • 93% of coal gas blasts were caused by poor ventilation.

China is acknowledged by many to be the most dangerous place on Earth to work in mining.

Now putting aside the fact that Xinhua is the official Chinese media outlet I thought I would do some digging into the safety record of Chinese mines and (time permitting) keep track over it over the course of 2013.

Here is my analysis.

1 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyProvince_130515

Map Details

Just looking at Xinhua data to 14 May there have been 28-major incidents which include 336-fatalities and 160-injuries. Due to a lack of follow-up reporting by Xinhua there are at least 42-people unconfirmed as either dead or rescued from various floods and collapses, although I hope to follow this up by interrogating provincial newspapers.

The single largest incident was that of a landslide in Tibet which buried 83-miners of the Jiama Copper mine under 2-million cubic metres of mud and rock on the 29th March. This single incident also confirmed Tibet as the province with the most confirmed fatalities to date.

The South West province of Guizhou had the most reported incidents with seven separate incidents and a combined fatality count of 70. The most serious incident from Guizhou was a colliery gas blast at the Machang mine which left 25-dead and a further 20-injured.

Both North East and South West Regions recorded 10-incidents each. The South West Region (which includes Tibet) had the worst data, recording 189-deaths against the North East which had 112-deaths.

The most recent incident reported via Xinhua was covering the gas blast at the illegal Taozigao coal mine on the 12th May 2013.

2 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyResource_130515

Fatalities by Resource

Coal continues to be the most dangerous resource to mine in China with 240-deaths, almost 3 out of every four reported fatalities occurring via that commodity. Additionally, with 25 out of 28 incidents attributed to coal it also made up 89.3% of all reported incidents to date.

Copper was the second most dangerous resource by numbers with 2 incidents (7.1%) and 86-deaths (25.6%). Although we are not yet half-way through the year I believe that percentile will come down over the course of 2013 given that 96.5% of that commodities fatalities came from a single incident, the Tibetan landslide, which even by Chinese standards was unprecedented.

With one carbon monoxide poisoning incident (3.6%) and 10-deaths (3%) gold was the only other commodity to have a significant reportable incident.

3 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyMonth_130515

Fatalities by Month

The final graph looks at reported mining deaths by month including provisional numbers for the current month.

Not including May the incident average for the first four months is 6.5 while the monthly average for deaths is at 74-deaths. Interestingly the incident variation is tight (between 5 and 8) while the fatality variation is more diverse (between 22 and 155).

Final Thoughts

Without discussing censorship, there is no doubt that the numbers I have discussed here only scratch the surface of Chinese mining fatalities.

A commonality of the 28 incidents reported by Xinhua was that they covered incidents with three or more persons. Thus, a huge amount of individual deaths and injuries that can happen on any mine in any part of the world including Australia go unreported by the national Chinese media.

Another factor would be illegal mining. At least two incidents and 40-deaths that were recorded occurred in illegal mines, potentially unknown to Chinese officials until a major rescue effort was required.

That aside, everything that I discover about China is big.

Unfortunately that also includes fatality counts in its mining industry.

Updates (15/05/2013)

  • Added Fatalities by Month chart.