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Canadian mine safety in a global context

Mining is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, accounting for around 12,000 deaths annually.

Canada is not immune to such accidents – two miners were killed in Sudbury, Ont., on Thursday – but it is on the low end of the scale of annual fatality rates.

An average of 80 workers died annually over a three-year period ending in 2009 in Canada’s mining, quarrying and petroleum industries.

The U.S. had only 51 mining deaths in 2008, the lowest annual number in its history until 2009, when the number dropped to 34.

In China, the numbers have improved in the last several years but are still dismal: 2,433 miners killed in 2010, 2,631 in 2009, and 3,215 in 2008.

Global News takes a look at mining fatalities at home and around the world.

Canada

One miner was crushed to death by a piece of mining equipment at the Vale plant in Sudbury in 2006.

Earlier this year, a drilling contractor was killed in an accident at the Copper Kidd Mine near Timmins, Ont.

While tragic, these accidents pale in comparison to the major mining death tolls Canada has seen in the past.

The worst mining disaster in Canadian history was the Hillcrest Mine Disaster. The accident occurred on June 19, 1914, when an explosion ripped through a coal mine in Hillcrest, Alberta.

The disaster killed 189 miners, and many families in the area lost all their male relatives.

Also on the list of Canada’s worst mining accidents are the Springhill Mining Disasters of the 1950s.

The town of Springhill, N.S. was devastated when two separate incidents claimed the lives of 113 miners.

The first came in 1956 when an explosion killed 39 miners. Less than two years later, a Springhill mine was hit by a “bump,” or underground earthquake, that killed 74.

Worldwide

Last year, there were several deadly mining accidents worldwide, and one mining miracle.

In April, an explosion killed 29 miners in West Virginia in the deadliest U.S. mining disaster since 1984.

Underground explosions at the Raspadskaya mine in Russia killed 66 workers in May.

More than 70 miners were killed the following month in Columbia when a gas explosion resulted in the country’s worst mining disaster in decades.

A bright spot in 2010 was the Chile mining miracle in October. Thirty-three miners were brought to the surface alive after spending a record 69 days underground.

China

Chinese mines are in a category of their own. Thousands of miners are killed each year in explosions, floods and collapses in the country, which is notorious for its lax mining safety measures.

The country produces 35 per cent of the world’s coal but accounts for 80 per cent of the world’s coal-mining deaths.

A fire at a colliery in Hunan Province in central China killed 25 miners in January 2010.

The biggest mining accident in China in recent history occurred in 2005, when a gas explosion at the Sunjiawan colliery in the northeastern city of Fuxin killed 214. It was the worst mining accident in the country in 15 years.

China was also the site of the deadliest recorded single mining accident in history. A total of 1,549 people died on April 26, 1942 in a coal-dust explosion at Benxihu colliery in Benxi, Liaoning.

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