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Collapse in Chile will spur safety changes.

The San Jose mine collapse will alter small mining operations throughout the world, claims Chilean native Joaquin Cortes, a visiting assistant professor of geology in the State University of New York system. 'The global mining industry will never be the same after this," contends Cortes, who worked in Chile's Los Sauces copper mine early in his career as a mapping geologist.


"Knowing the operating conditions of small copper and gold enterprises in Chile and, in particular, those that have been active for more than 100 years, the miners were quite lucky throughout the whole ordeal. Nevertheless, the disaster has put a major focus on safety in these small mining companies, not just in Chile, but throughout the world. Situations like this mere often end in tragedy, such as the recent examples in China and West Virginia."

Cortes points out that there are over 800 mines in the Copiapo region alone and several thousand throughout the count]y, some of which are so large that they resemble underground cities, complete with roads, traffic lights, hospitals, and restaurants. With its current level of resources, Chile is not able to perform sufficient inspections on its mines, Cortes declares.

Right after the San Jose mine collapsed, Cortes recounts, Pres. Sebastian Pinera tired several top officials at the Chilean Geological Survey. "I think he will be making more dramatic changes in the legislation regarding safety in small enterprises, which will probably improve the rights and working conditions of the miners. It is likely that such changes will be an example followed by other countries in the world."

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Title Annotation:Mining Industry
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:3CHIL
Date:Dec 1, 2010
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