Chilean miners rescued after 69 days underground
As the world celebrates the rescue of the 33 trapped miners in Chile, IMF calls on Chile to ratify ILO mine safety convention 176 and expresses concern for the futures of the 365 miners (including the 33 freed miners) who are out of work.
CHILE: All 33 of Chile's trapped miners were lifted up a narrow escape shaft to freedom on October 13 in a rescue operation that ended their two-month ordeal deep underground. One by one, the miners climbed into a specially designed steel capsule barely wider than a man's shoulders and took a 15-minute journey through 625 meters of rock to the surface.
The miners spent 69 days in the hot, humid bowels of the collapsed mine and, for the first 17 days, they were all believed to be dead. The miners were immediately taken away for medical checkups and found to be in "more than satisfactory" health, except for one who is being treated for pneumonia and is thought to suffer from the lung disease silicosis.
The dramatic scenes at the San Jose mine have attracted world attention to the question of mine safety. Chile is not a signatory to the main international mining safety standards and almost 50 miners died in accidents last year. The country is home to just one per cent of the world's mine workers, but notches up eight per cent of the fatal accidents.
Jorge Almeida, IMF regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean, went to Copiap in the last week of September for an official visit that was planned with the support of IMF's affiliates in Chile.
Almeida said the high level of companionship between the 33 workers was essential for the survival of the miners until their eventual rescue and called on the Chilean government to properly investigate the causes of the accident, indentify those responsible and put in place mechanisms to prevent another disaster.
During the IMF mission, Almeida visited the camp where the families of the trapped workers and mine workers were waiting for news. "I had the opportunity to talk with workers and relatives of the trapped miners. I delivered a message of solidarity and hope for a prompt rescue from IMF general secretary Jyrki Raina," said Almeida.
Following the successful rescue of the miners, the IMF remains concerned about the reemployment of the 365 mine workers (included the 33 rescued). Now all these workers have no job and the future of the mine is not yet clear.
"I also reminded the government of the need to listen to workers and engage with them and their organizations in prevention efforts. It is essential that the country signs and ratifies Convention No. 176 of the International Labour Organization related to mining safety," said Almeida referring to the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions' mine safety campaign that IMF supports.