Thousands of foreigners go down in Turkish mines

Thousands of foreigners go down in Turkish mines

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Thousands of foreigners go down in Turkish mines

More than 100,000 Turkish miners are unemployed, a unionist in the sector says. AA photo

Thousands of foreign miners are employed in Turkey, while 100,000 qualified sector workers cannot access jobs, according to a unionist who was commenting on Chinese workers at a newly opened mine in the Black Sea region.

This is not in harmony with the customs of the sector, as mining firms across the world usually prefer to employ locals initially in a bid to give them a share in the richness of their own region, Dev Maden-İş Chairman Tayfun Görgün told the Hürriyet Daily News during a phone interview yesterday. The largest worker inflow to the country is from the Turkic-speaking countries, he said, estimating the total figure at around 10,000.

Some miners also come from Middle Eastern countries such as Iraq and these people usually work without any social security, which badly affects the unionization activities, he also said.

“The number of qualified miners in Turkey is around 250,000, and some 100,000 of them are unemployed,” the unionist said.

The number of Chinese workers in the country is between 700 and 800, he estimated. And some 200 of them work at the Bartın-Amasra mine, an enterprise by the Hattat Holding subsidiary Hema Enerji, in the Black Sea province of Bartın.

Ministers at mine opening
Energy Minister Taner Yıldız and Environmental and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar were on hand to examine the mine as it was officially opened on Aug. 29. The Bartın-Amasra mine, which is part of the Western Black Sea Mega Energy Base Project, is 720 meters deep and contains 573 million tons of cold reserves. There are three separate wells 8.5 meters in diameter. The wells will be linked with a 25-kilometer passage.

Yıldız, who emerged from the mine with a sample of coal, said his specimen was about 5,000 to 6,000 calories. “This is coal that is on par with global standards ... We see this as something that will add value to the Turkish economy. In Turkey we place importance on domestic and renewable energy sources,” he said.

Hattat Holding Chairman Mehmet Hattat and Hema Chairman İbrahim Hattat were also present at the mine.

Mehmet Hattat, according to a press release by the company, noted that there were currently 400 miners digging for coal in the wells and that half of them were from China.

The unionist said mining bosses were looking to import Chinese workers on the supposition that they “know mining, are small-framed and work for low salaries.” “Turkey has started to import foreign miners after importing coal itself,” he said.

However, Mehmet Hattat is very sensitive on the issue, a company executive told the Daily News in a press release yesterday.

The work in Bartın required specifications that Turkish workers and engineers do not currently hold, and many coal drilling activities in Turkey, even those of the state-run company, are done by Polish or Chinese people, the company source said.

Hema cooperates with Chinese Datong, the source also said.

“However, Chairman Hattat ordered his company at the start of the work to employ a Turkish counterpart for each Chinese miner or engineer even though they are not experienced,” the source said, adding that this was both to create local jobs and increase local know-how.

The number of Chinese workers is falling gradually as Turkish miners replace them, the source said.

Blast kills at least 26 miners

BEIJING – Agence France-Presse

At least 26 workers at a coal mine in southwest China lost their lives at a blast and rescue workers were trying to pull out another 21 still trapped underground, state media said yesterday. A total of 154 miners were working underground at the Xiaojiawan mine in the city of Panzhihua in Sichuan province when the blast occurred in the afternoon on Aug. 29 by the local time, the official Xinhua news agency said. Rescuers had pulled 107 people out of the mine until the daily Daily News went to print yesterday evening and rushed 51 of them to hospital. Efforts to save the miners has been made difficult by high temperatures and the presence of poisonous carbon monoxide in the mine, Xinhua said.

Latest official figures show 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents in China in 2011. Labor rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher.