Disaster-struck Soma mine company sold stones instead of coal to state

Disaster-struck Soma mine company sold stones instead of coal to state

Hacer Boyacıoğlu ISTANBUL
Disaster-struck Soma mine company sold stones instead of coal to state

A miner works to remove coal from the soil in a Soma mine in this file photo from 2010. Some 301 workers were killed in an accident in Soma in 2014.

The Soma Coal Mine Company, which owned the mine in the Aegean district of Soma where 301 miners were killed last year, has sold more than 750,000 tons of stone to the state instead of coal, according to reports from the Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA).

The TCA inspected 1.5 million tons out of a total 2.3 million tons of coal sold by the Soma Coal Mining Company to the state in 2013, after an accident hit one of the mines in Soma owned by the firm on May 13, 2014, killing 301 miners.

Inspectors revealed that 768, 520 tons of coals sold by the company was useless, while 768,791 tons of coal was usable, according to the inspectors’ report. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Manisa deputy Özgür Özel said the state lost 49 million Turkish Liras due to the unusable coal.

According to the contract, the state bought the raw coal removed from the mine from the company and then public institutions washed it to detect how much was usable coal.

“The raw coal contract is usually done in small mines. In these models, 60 percent of the raw coal is usable coal. In this case, the real coal is not more than 33 percent of the raw coal. No other company has such low numbers. According to these numbers, the state has paid 49 million liras for stones,” Özel said.

The accident that took place during a shift change claimed 301 lives; more than 780 miners were inside the mine when the fire erupted. Three days of official mourning were declared on May 14, 2014, by the government once the extremity of the disaster was realized.

Eight people, including the CEO, general manager and operating manager of the Soma Coal Mine Company, were arrested as part of the probe. A Manisa court rejected the indictment prepared against 45 suspects, including eight under arrest, finding it “insufficient,” on the grounds that the document was prepared before all the complainants had testified and before the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey’s (TÜBİTAK) report on the sensors in the mine had been delivered.