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Chilean miners' rescue a learning opportunity

October 13, 2010
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TRIANGLE, VA – United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

“The members of the United Mine Workers and miners everywhere cheer the fulfillment of our hopes and prayers as the heroic rescue of the 33 trapped miners in Chile continues. A huge debt of thanks is owed to the many rescuers who worked tirelessly to bring them to the surface.

“Yet while we celebrate, we must also look at this event as a learning opportunity for those who regulate mining at home and abroad.

“Every mine in the world, regardless of location and engineering challenges, must operate in an environment that puts the safety of miners above every other consideration. Far too often, as we have seen most recently in the United States at the Upper Big Branch mine, safety takes a back seat to production and profits, often with tragic results. Listening to reports of alleged safety violations at the San Jose mine, it is clear that this is a problem that recognizes no borders.

“Even the most stringent mine safety laws are only effective when regulators have the will and the means to rigorously enforce them. As we rejoice in the rescue of our Chilean brothers, let us also learn from the mistakes that put their lives at enormous risk.”

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