We are deeply saddened to hear that yesterday (25th November 2021) a suspected methane explosion killed 52 people, including 6 rescuers, at the Listvyazhnaya coal mine. The underground mine lies close to the town of Gramoteino, in the heavily mined Kuzbass coal field.
The company operating this mine - SDS – Ugol - is one of Russia’s three biggest coal producers, it exports coal to Europe, including to British power stations. The Kuzbass region where this mine is located is the main area in Russia for export to Europe.
This is sadly not the first accident at this mine, an earlier methane blast in 2004 which killed 13 people and in 1981 another explosion killed five people. Coal mining releases methane which is poisonous, highly flammable and a strong contributor to green house gas emissions.
In the Kuzbass there are large opencast coal mines as well as many underground mines. There is little other work other than coal mining and associated industries in the area, but the consequences of mining coal are numerous. In addition to industrial accidents they include – water pollution, dust from mining and waste tips, higher incidences of cancers; waste tips blotting the landscape and contributing to smog; loss of wilderness areas for hunting, fishing and wildlife; and the destruction of entire villages to enable mine expansion. For more info see our 2018 report, Slow Death in Siberia.
Coal Action Network and Russian environmental group Ecodefense met with HSBC in 2016. HSBC told us that in order for them to consider ending investments in a coal company there needs to have been an accident killing at least 5 people. HSBC are you financing SDS-UGOL?
This tragic loss of life in Russia is strongly linked to the UK and other European nations which consume coal from the Kuzbass. While the UK plans to phase-out coal power in 2024, some of the coal remaining in British stockpiles at power stations could well have been mined at Listvyazhnaya.
Our thoughts are with the bereaved families and the entire community surrounding this mine.
Sources include: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/25/dozens-trapped-underground-in-siberia-after-fatal-coalmine-fire, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20211125-six-dead-dozens-missing-after-siberia-coal-mine-accident
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