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  • 작성자 사진Yang Ha-yoon

[Feature: Safety] Save the Miners, Safe to Work

No.161 / Dec 12, 2022

On October 26, a serious accident occurred at Kumho Mine in Bonghwa-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, causing widespread concern. The accident left two miners stranded in a 190m vertical shaft, and they were rescued safely at approximately 11 p.m. on November 4 after being isolated in the shaft for 221 hours.

This is not the first time that an accident of this nature has occurred at Kumho Mine. Approximately two months before, on August 29, two miners quarrying 50m below plunged down because the ore piled up within the mine collapsed. One of those buried managed to escape, however, the other eventually died. Police concluded that the reason for the collapse of the ore pile was due to an occasional sinkhole phenomenon. In addition, considering that sinkholes have complex causes, they decided that special attention was needed when working in this mine.

However, there was another accident where a large volume of mud flowed into the mine. Two workers had detected anomalies before the accident, and escaped in time. The remaining five were unable to escape because a large volume of mud had completely blocked the entrance to the mine. Fortunately, three workers, who were trapped in a relatively shallow depth mine, were able to get out. The company attempted to deal with the accident on its own, however, when they realized that the situation was getting worse, it was not until 14 hours after the incident that they called 119 to request assistance. Since the two miners, who had not yet been rescued, were located deep underground, fire authorities expected it to take at least three days to reach a point where rescue was possible. Unfortunately, to enable the rescue team to enter, they had to break down large rocks which took longer than expected, making it difficult to continue with the rescue. In addition, rescuers had to be drilled again from the beginning because it was built by referring to old documents, which rendered the families very desperate. Despite many difficulties, rescuers did not give up and continued to penetrate the rock layer, and the rescue team finally succeeded in reaching the area where the miners were isolated. Neither worker was seriously injured, but they were hospitalized to treat their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by the accident, and from November 7, they also began eye and neuropsychiatric treatment.

A more detailed cause of the accident is still under investigation. In addition to the emergency inspection caused by the accident, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) plans to carry out customized safety inspections for mines with serious disasters by the end of the 2022. The public’s continued interest will help resolve the case as well as nip other similar accidents in the bud.


By Yang Ha-yoon, AG Reporter

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