Twin methane gas explosions claimed 66 lives and injured 129 at the Raspadskaya longwall mine in Siberia—the largest underground coal mine in Russia. The remains of another 24 miners have not been recovered. After being berated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on national television, the mine’s director, Igor Volkov, was ousted. A special investigation committee formally charged Volkov with criminal negligence. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. The government is considering more charges against other mine officials. Although the cause of the explosions has not been determined, investigators say the ignitions follow a high build-up of methane. Miners have admitted they ignored methane readings to boost production to earn extra pay. Located in the Kemerovo region, the mine produced more than 9 million mt/y of coking coal and its closure has had a significant impact on steel mills and coking coal prices.
- Written by E&MJ News