Chile reconsiders mine safety after worker deaths and sinkhole widening

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Trade associations and lawmakers have asked the government to support Convention 176, which provides guarantees for workers while requiring the state to adopt certain legal standards.

“Although the number of accidents has decreased in the last 10 years, we still have a lot to do,” Boric said during a speech marking Chile’s Miners’ Day.

The President said there were 20 fatalities in the mining industry last year and wants to reach a target of zero.

In July, two workers died in separate accidents at different construction projects for state-owned Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer.

Chile’s mining regulator Sernageomin found “deficiencies” in both cases, noting the deaths could have been prevented and drawing attention to compliance with industry safety standards in Chile, the world’s largest copper producer.

Ratification of the convention would mean tighter security measures and more government oversight, and would allow workers to lodge complaints with the ILO.

Boric also mentioned the recent sinkhole that occurred near a copper mine in northern Chile, which is still being investigated.

“What if this sinkhole happened in a city? What if it happened at a construction site?” said Boric. “What would we complain about today? It could very well have happened.”

(By Fabián Andrés Cambero and Alexander Villegas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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