Major Mining and Related Disasters

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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This is an attempt to compile as complete a list as possible of mining disasters that claimed more than 100 lives. It includes not only mine disasters but any disaster related to mining or resource extraction, including waste pile collapses, oil rig disasters, and pipeline and gas field explosions. It does not attempt to list disasters like pipeline fires, gas explosions in buildings, or oil tank or refinery disasters.

The list is sobering for its sheer length. It is probably not complete. Some early disasters probably went unrecorded, although the smaller scale of mining before the Industrial Revolution probably made large disasters rare. Disasters in Russia in Stalinist and Czarist time were probably kept secret, as were disasters in China under Mao. Disasters in China during Japanese occupation and before World War II may well have gone unrecorded.

Selected disasters with fewer than 100 fatalities have been included. The 1839 event was the first documented large mining disaster in the U.S. Others were included because they were the largest disasters in a particular country, were unusually large disasters in metal mines, or were unusual in some other respect.

Year Mon Day Mine Town State/Province Country Disaster Fatalities Mine Type Notes
1376 Rammelsberg Goslar Harz Germany Collapse > 100 Metal 1
1448 Heilig-Kreuz-Stollen Schwaz Tirol Austria Flood 100–260 Metal 1
1565 Der Goldene Esel Zloty Stok (Reichenstein) Schlesien Germany Collapse 59–95 Metal 1
1839 3 18 Black Heath Coal near Richmond VA USA Explosion 53 Coal 2,3
1856 7 15 Cymmer  Rhondda   UK (Wales)   114 Coal 5
1860 12 1 Risca Black Vein Pit Waunfawr   UK (Wales)   146 Coal 5
1862 1 16 Hartley Colliery Region Northumberland England Collapse 204 Coal  
1866 12 12 Oaks Colliery, (Barnsley, England, 1866) Barnsley,England,UK Yorkshire UK (England) Explosion 361 Coal 4
1867 7 1 Neue Fundgrube Lugau/Erzgebiet Lugau-Oelsnitzer Revier Germany Collapse 101 Coal 1
1867 11 8 Ferndale Colliery Rhondda UK (Wales) Explosion 178 Coal 5
1869 8 2 Freiherrlich von Burgker Coaln- und Eisenhüttenwerke, Freital Freitaler Germany Explosion 276 Coal 1
1869 9 6 Avondale Plymouth PA USA Fire 110 Coal 2
1877 10 22 Blantyre Blantyre Lanarkshire UK(Scotland) 207 Coal  
1878 6 7 Wood Pit Haydock Lancashire UK (England) Explosion 200 Coal  
1878 9 11 Prince of Wales Mine Abercarn Monmouthshire, Wales UK (Wales) 259 Coal 5
1880 Renard coal mine Sosnowiec Poland 200 Coal  
1880 7 15 Risca New Mine Waunfawr   UK (Wales)   120 Coal 5
1880 12 10 Naval  Penygraig   UK (Wales)   101 Coal 5
1884 3 13 Laurel Pocahontas Virginia USA Explosion 112 Coal 2
1885 3 5 Larisch Karviná Czech Republic 108 Coal 1
1885 3 7 Grube Camphausen Quierschied Saarrevier Germany Explosion 180 Coal 1
1887 5 3 Mine No. 1 Nanaimo Canada 150 Coal  
1890 2 6 Llanerch (Cwmnantddu) Abersychan   UK (Wales)   176 Coal 5
1891 1 27 Mammoth No. 1 Mount Pleasant Pennsylvania USA Explosion 109 Coal 2
1891 2 21 Collieries No. 1 and 2 Springhill Nova Scotia Canada Explosion 125 Coal  
1892 1 7 Mine No. 11 Krebs Oklahoma USA Explosion 100 Coal 2
1892 3 11 Schacht Aulniats Anderlues Belgium Explosion 160 1
1892 5 31 Grube Maria-Schacht Příbram-Birkenberg Czech Republic Fire 319 Iron 1
1892 8 26 Park Slip  Tondu   UK (Wales)   110 Coal 5
1894 6 14 Larisch Karviná Czech Republic 235 Coal 1
1894 6 25 Albion Colliery Cilfynydd Glamorgan, Wales UK (Wales) 290 Coal 5
1896 3 26 Brunner Mine, NZ NZ Explosion 65 Coal  
1896 Kleofas coal mine Katowice Poland 104 Coal  
1898 2 17 Zeche Carolinenglück Bochum Ruhrgebiet Germany Explosion 116 Coal 1
1899 6 15 Hokoku Itoda Kyūshū Japan 210 Coal  
1899 8 28 Sumitomo Besshi bronze mine Niihama Shikoku Japan Debris Flow 512 Copper  
1900 5 1 Scofield,Utah UT USA Explosion 200 Copper 2
1902 5 19 Coal Creek TN USA Explosion 184 Coal 2
1902 7 10 Rolling Mill Johnstown PA USA Explosion 112 Coal 2
1902 7 31 Mt. Kembla, Australia Australia Explosion 96 Coal  
1903 6 30 Hanna No. 1 Hanna WY USA Explosion 169 Coal 2
1904 1 25 Harwick Springdale Township, Pennsylvania PA USA Explosion 179 Coal 2
1905 2 20 Virginia City Virginia City AL USA Explosion 112 Coal 2
1905 7 11 National   Wattstown   UK (Wales)   119 Coal 5
1906 3 10 Courrieres, France France Explosion 1100 Coal 4
1907 1 28 Grube Reden Schiffweiler Saarland Germany Explosion 150 Coal 1
1907 7 20 Hokoku Itoda Kyūshū Japan 365 Coal  
1907 12 6 Monongah Nos. 6 and 8 Monongah WV USA Explosion 362 Coal 2
1907 12 10 Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania PA USA 239 Coal 2
1907 12 19 Darr Van Meter PA USA Explosion 239 Coal 2
1908 2 27 Mina Rosita Vieja disaster San Juan de Sabinas Coahuila Mexico 200 Coal  
1908 11 12 Zeche Radbod Schacht 1/2 Bockum-Hövel Ruhrgebiet Germany Explosion, Fire 348 Coal 1
1908 11 28 Rachel and Agnes Marianna PA USA Explosion 154 Coal 2
1909 2 16 West Stanley Colliery Stanley County Durham England Explosion 168 Coal  
1909 8 5 Onoura Kirino Kyūshū Japan 243 Coal  
1909 11 13 Cherry Mine Cherry IL USA Fire 259 Coal 2
1910 12 21 Pretoria Pit Westhoughton   England 344 Coal  
1911 4 8 Banner Littleton AL USA Explosion 128 Coal 2
1912 8 8 Zeche Lothringen 1/2 Bochum Ruhrgebiet Germany Explosion 115 Coal  
1913 4 23 Cincinnati Finleyville PA USA Explosion 98 Coal 2
1913 10 14 Senghenydd Colliery Senghenydd, Wales, Uk UK Explosion 438 Coal 4,5
1913 10 22 Stag Canyon No. 2 Dawson NM USA Explosion 263 Coal 2
1914 4 28 Eccles, WV WV USA Explosion 181 Coal 2
1914 6 19 Hillcrest mine Hillcrest Alberta Canada 189 Coal  
1914 11 88 New Yubari Yubari Hokkaidō Japan 422 Coal  
1914 12 15 Mitsubishi Hojo Kyūshū Japan 687 Coal  
1915 3 2  Layland No. 3 Layland WV USA Explosion 112 Coal 2
1917 4 27 Hastings Hastings CO USA Explosion 121 Coal 2
1917 6 8 Granite Mountain Shaft Butte MT USA Fire 163 Copper 2
1917 12 21 Onoura Kirino Kyūshū Japan 376 Coal  
1918 1 12 Podmore Hall Halmer End Staffordshire UK 155 Coal  
1919 6 5 Baltimore Tunnel #2 Wilkes-Barre PA USA Explosives 92 Coal 2
1923 2 8 Stag Canon No. 1 Dawson NM USA Explosion 120 Coal 2
1923 8 14 Frontier No. 1 Kemmerer WY USA Explosion 99 Coal 2
1923 Rozbrat Bytom Poland 145 Coal  
1924 3 8 Castle Gate, Utah UT USA Explosion 172 Coal 2
1924 4 28 Wheeling Steel Benwood WV USA Explosion 119 Coal 2
1925 2 11 Zeche Minister Stein Dortmund Ruhrgebiet Germany Explosion 136 1
1926 11 3 Barnes Hecker Mine Ishpeming MI USA Flood 51 Iron 2
1927 3 27 Uchigo Iwaki Japan 134 Coal  
1927 4 30 NEW ENGLAND FUEL & TRANS. CO. FEDERAL NO. 3 Everettville WV USA Explosion 109 Coal 2
1927 4 30 Federal No. 3 Everettville WV USA Explosion 97 Coal 2
1928 5 19 Mather, Pennsylvania PA USA Explosion 195 Coal 2
1930 7 9 Wenzelsgrube Hausdorf (Now Jugow) Neuroder Revier Germany (Now Poland) Gas 151 Coal 1
1930 10 21 Grube Anna Alsdorf Aachener Revier Germany Explosion 271 Coal 1
1930 10 25 Grube Maybach Friedrichsthal Saarrevier Germany Explosion 98 Coal 1
1931 Wacław coal mine Mikołów Poland 151 Coal  
1934 1 3 Lignitenbergwerk Zeche Nelson III Osek Erzgebirge Czech Republic Explosion 142 Lignite  
1934 9 22 Gresford Wrexham, Wales UK (Wales) Explosion, Fire 266 Coal 5
1937 11 11 Kogushi sulfur mine western Gunma Japan Collapse 245 Sulfur  
1940 1 10 Pond Creek No. 1 Bartley WV USA Explosion 91 Coal 2
1940 3 16 Blantyre Lanarkshire UK Explosion 72 Coal 2
1941 5 10 Rubengrube Neurode (Nova Ruda) Neuroder Revier Germany (now Poland) Gas 186 Coal 1
1941 Mitsubishi Bibai Bibai Hokkaidō Japan 177 Coal  
1942 2 3 Chosei Ube Japan 183 Coal  
1942 4 26 Honkeiko Colliery, China Benxi Liaoning China Explosion 1549 Coal 4
1943 2 27 Smith Mine Red Lodge MT USA Explosion  74 Coal 2
1943 8 6 Lignitenbergwerk Fohnsdorf Fohnsdorf Steiermark Austria Explosion 102–104 Lignite 1
1944 3 16 Zeche Hansa Dortmund Ruhrgebiet Germany Explosion 95 Coal 1
1944 4 3 Zeche Sachsen Hamm Ruhrgebiet Germany Explosion 169 Coal 1
1944 9 10 Zeche Monopol Schacht Grimberg 3/4 Bergkamen Ruhr Germany Explosion  107 Coal 1,6
1946 2 20 Zeche Monopol Schacht Grimberg 3/4 Bergkamen Ruhr Germany Explosion  405 Coal 1
1947 3 25 Centralia No. 5 Centralia IL USA Explosion 111 Coal 2
1951 12 21 Orient No. 2 West Frankfort IL USA Explosion 119 Coal 2
1956 8 8 Bois du Cazier Marcinelle Belgium Fire 262 Coal 1
1960 1 21 Coalbrook, South Africa South Africa Collapse, Gas 437 Coal 4
1960 2 22 Coalnwerk Karl Marx Zwickau Zwickauer Coalnrevier Germany Explosion 123 Coal 1
1960 5 9 Laobaidong colliery Datong Shanxi China Explosion 682 Coal 4
1961 7 14 Dukla Ostrava Czech Republic 108 Coal 1
1962 2 7 Luisenthal Mine Völklingen Saarland Germany Explosion 299 Coal 1
1963 11 9 Mitsui Miike Omuta, Japan Japan Explosion 447 Coal 4
1965 3 28 El Cobre Chile Earthquake, Dam Collapse 200 Copper  
1965 5 28 Dhanbad, India Bihar India Fire 375 Coal 4
1965 6 1 Chikuho Yamano Kyūshū Japan 236 Coal  
1966 5 1 Prince of Wales Mine Abercarn Monmouthshire, Wales Bulgaria Dam Collapse 488 Lead, Zinc  
1966 10 21 Aberfan UK (Wales) Coal Tip Collapse 144 Coal  
1968 11 20 Consol No. 9 Farmington WV USA Explosion 78 Coal 2
1969 3 31 Mina de Barroteran Coahuila Mexico 153 Coal  
1970 9 25 Mufulira Zambia Mine Flood 89 Copper  
1972 2 26 Buffalo Creek WV USA Coal Slurry Flood 125 Coal 2
1972 5 2 Sunshine Mine Kellogg ID USA Fire 91 Silver 2
1972 6 6 Wankie, Rhodesia Rhodesia Explosion 427 Coal 4
1975 12 27 Sudamdih Colliery Dhanbad India Explosion, Flood 372 Coal 4
1977 7 15 Amaga Angelopolis Antioquia Colombia 125 Coal  
1980 3 27 Alexander Kielland Ekofisk oil field Norway Sinking 123 Oil Rig  
1982 2 15 Ocean Ranger oil platform Grand Banks of Newfoundland Canada Sinking 84 Oil Rig  
1983 3 8 Armutçuk Ereğli Zonguldak Turkey 100 Coal  
1984 2 25 Vila Socó São Paulo Brazil Fire 500 Oil Spill  
1984 11 19 Pemex San Juan Ixhuatepec (San Juanico) Mexico City Mexico Explosion 500 Gas Terminal  
1985 7 19 Stava Trento Italy Dam Collapse 268 Fluorite  
1986 9 16 Kinross Transvaal South Africa Fire 177  
1988 7 6 Piper Alpha North Sea Explosion 167 Oil Rig  
1990 8 26 Dobrnja-Jug Tuzla Bosnia and Herzegovina Explosion 180 Coal  
1991 4 21 Sanjiaohe Hongdong Shanxi China 147 4
1992 3 3 Incirharmani Kozlu Zonguldak Turkey 263  
1995 5 11 Vaal Reefs South Africa Elevator Failure 105 Gold  
2000 9 26 Muchonggou Shuicheng Guizhou China 159 4
2000 10 18 Nandan county Guangxi China Tailings Pond Collapse 100  
2001 7 16 Guangxi China Flood 200  
2001 7 17 Shaanxi China Explosion 150  
2002 6 20 Chengzihe Jixi Heilongjiang China 124 Gold 4
2003 12 23 PetroChina Chuandongbei Guoqiao Kai County Chongqing Explosion 234 Natural Gas Field  
2004 10 20 Daping Tongchuan Henan China 148 Coal 4
2004 11 28 Chenjiashan Tongchuan Shaanxi China Explosion 166 Coal 4
2005 2 15 Sunjiawan Fuxin Liaoning China Explosion 214 Coal 4
2005 8 6 Daxing Xingning Guangdong China Flooding 123 Coal 4
2005 11 27 Dongfeng Qitaihe Heilongjiang China Explosion 134 Coal 4
2005 12 7 Liuguantun Colliery   Hebei China Explosion   Coal 4
2007 3 19 Ulyanovskaya Novokuznetsk Kuzbass Siberia Russia Explosion 108 Coal  
2007 8 17 Huayuan- and Minggong-Mine Huayuan, Xintai Shandong China Flooding 181 Coal 4
2007 11 18 Zasyadko Donetsk Ukraine Explosion 101 Coal  
2007 12 5 Xinyao Mine Ruizhiyuan, Linfen Shanxi China 105 Coal 4
2008 9 8 Linfen Shanxi China Tailings Pond Collapse 254  
2009 11 22 Longmei Mine Hgang Heilongjiang, China China Explosion 104 Coal 4

And now for some good news. A couple of disasters on some lists appear to be spurious. Several lists include a 1937 disaster in Grundy, VA that killed 257. I cannot find any confirmation of this event. Reports of a gold mine collapse that killed 200 in Sierra Leone in March 2010 appear to have been a hoax.

Notes

  1. Wikipedia, Liste von Unglücken im Bergbau; German language site with comprehensive list of European disasters.
  2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Mining Disasters Since 1839;   http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/statistics/disall.htm
  3. This was the earliest documented major mining disaster in the U.S.
  4. U.S. Mine Rescue Association: China's Worst Mining Disasters, http://www.usmra.com/china/disasterwatch/
  5. Welsh Mining Disasters, http://www.welshcoalmines.co.uk/DisastersList.htm
  6. Including many Russian prisoners who were being used as laborers.

Incidents not otherwise noted can be found in generic lists of disasters such as those on Wikipedia. Most have individual articles on line.

The Coal Mining History Resource Center (http://www.cmhrc.co.uk/site/disasters/) contains a huge amount of data on coal mining disasters in England but suffers from the fatal defect of not tabulating casualties in its lists of accidents, reducing its historical utility greatly.


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Created 31 March 2008, Last Update 28 September 2011

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