Poor infrastructure blamed for coal mine fatality in North Korea
Production has been halted at Namjon Mine, which is operated by South Pyongan Province’s Kaechon Mining Enterprise, following an incident in early April involving groundwater overflow. The accident occurred in the midst of efforts by the North Korean authorities to increase coal production under the slogan “more electricity requires more firepower,” regional sources report.
“All of a sudden, the groundwater level started to increase in the Namjon mining pit,” a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK. “Although a water pump was installed, the pit flooded because there was no electricity.”
A worker who was inside the pit died in the accident, said the source.
Groundwater flooding accidents are a major risk for coal mine workers. Most coal mines are equipped with water pumps and drainage systems to prepare for contingencies.
Namjon Coal Mine generally operates water pumps around the clock to deal with the substantial volumes of groundwater seeping in from the nearby Chongchon River basin.
Moments before the pit was completely flooded, several water pumps were brought in but could not be operated due to the lack of electricity.
“April is the dry season, so it’s a good time for coal mining. But if the groundwater overflows in April, it’s almost impossible to produce coal during the rainy season in July and August,” the source said. .......