Mining is one of the most hazardous occupations in Asia. Thousands of workers are killed and maimed every year in mining accidents and thousands more are diseased due to inhaling the toxic dusts at the mining sites. Mining in Asia is also a lucrative business too as indicated in Asia Mining Congress that was held in Singapore in March 2006, where the brochure was promoting the exploitable resources in Asia.
“Asean Mineral exports may triple to US$15b. With Asia having some of the world’s largest mineral deposits with “trillions of dollars” in exploitable resources, and the sustained demand from growing economies in China and India, there is no better time than now to discover the new business opportunities in Asia”.
However, it is not only the ‘mineral resources’ that are exploited – but workers in these countries are also heavily exploited in the process. It is visible through the vast number of accidents especially in the coal mines in China. China produces nearly 35% of the world’s coal but reports about 80% of the global accidents. Mining is the most hazardous occupation in China killing more than 6000 persons every year, though unofficial sources put this figure to about 20,000 a year. Coal is a major source of energy for China contributing to more than 70% of its energy needs. The death rate for every 100 tons of coal is 100 times of that of the US and 30 times of the South Africa. As per the statistics with the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), 600,000 miners are suffering from pneumoconiosis, and the figure increases by 70,000 miners every year. China may present visible grim picture, but situation is similar in many other Asian countries. What is also not known is the number of deaths and diseases due to the coal dust also called ‘Coal Miners Pneumoconiosis’ which is many folds than the deaths and injuries due to accidents. On one hand China has serious problem in its mines, on other hands Chinese companies are mining extensively in Africa exposing workers there to unprecedented hazards.
Bangladesh is passing through a very vulnerable situation in energy sector. The possible sources and raw material which can be converted into energy is very limited. One of the possible resource that can be mined for energy consumption is coal. Until now five coal areas has been identified whereas only Barapukuria Coal Mine is under production. Coal mine production is largely dependent on the underground mine workers.