Mining Mayhem
April 14, 2012 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Mining is a dangerous industry, and Mining Mayhem is a blog that aims to be the definitive resource for photos of mine site incidents and accidents (mostly from Australian mine sites).

Mining Mayhem has incident photos involving just about every aspect of open pit mining, including drill rigs, haulpaks, highwall collapses, draglines and dragline booms, stackers, pit ramps, water carts, spontaneous coal combustion, and bucket wheel excavators.

The posts have a heavy focus on rear dumpers. The nature of rear dumper operation means that haulpak operators can find themselves in terrible situations.

Surface mobile equipment operating around light vehicles is one of the most dangerous situations on any mine site, and there are plenty of SME-LV incident posts to really hammer that point home.

Work safe, folks.
posted by barnacles (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If the Blue Sky Mining Company won't save me, who's gonna save me?
posted by bpm140 at 7:18 AM on April 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Posted in one of the rear dumper threads:

I know we enjoy looking at them, but some of these are fatalities...please keep that in mind.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:33 AM on April 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

The Earth does not give up its treasure easily.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:00 AM on April 14, 2012

Am I the only one who feels like this blog might belong to a crazy person?
posted by smackwich at 8:16 AM on April 14, 2012

These photos typically only pass around in email circles in the mining industry, and are not well known outside of it.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:19 AM on April 14, 2012

What happens when you leave a leaking oxy-acetylene torch canister in your SUV over the weekend and then open the door (surprisingly not a fatality).
posted by at 9:30 AM on April 14, 2012

> Am I the only one who feels like this blog might belong to a crazy person?

Maybe. I really don't get why you would say that.
posted by Listener at 10:34 AM on April 14, 2012

Then there was the time a thunderstorm rolled in before we could get the rig down. Oh how we laughed as $250 000 worth of machinery arced and sparked and burned.. along with all of our Christmas bonuses.. we laughed so hard we nearly cried..
posted by Ahab at 12:09 PM on April 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Listener: "Am I the only one who feels like this blog might belong to a crazy person?

Maybe. I really don't get why you would say that.

Although the pictures carry some shock value, I don't get that vibe either. This seems to be someone who has a connection with the Australian mining industry who wants to share the dangers of mining with a wider audience. Most people abstractly know that mining is dangerous, but these pictures starkly show those dangers in concrete and irrefutable terms.

One of the links shows a huge dump truck that fell into the water, killing the driver. There was an angry comment about how the people involved were still sensitive about that apparently recent incident and implied that someone had broken a code of silence among miners by submitting it. Two following comments are from people who operate this kind of equipment who wrote that the picture had value as a "wake up call" for themselves and others like them.

There are many stories about this code of silence among miners, about keeping what happens in the mine, in the mine. These photos may be seen by some as disaster voyeurism, but that code of silence has cost untold lives over the centuries. I think that the warning it provides to people who do dangerous work as well as the opportunity to educate the general public about those dangers outweigh the potential for insensitivity.

I could easily see how others might disagree. For what it's worth, I didn't see any comments displaying any sort of nihilistic glee over the subject matter.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:31 PM on April 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

This reminds me of the excellent Landslide Blog
posted by fshgrl at 7:17 PM on April 14, 2012

crazy person?

Mining in Western Australia has some funny subcultures associated with it. And I assume it's similar Australia wide.

You've got primarily young working class blokes operating big machinery in remote locations under working and living conditions that are not reasonable by the standards of most Western Countries. Mines (particularly open pits) aren't built with safety as the top priority. The economics of extracting huge amounts of non-economic rock to get to much smaller amounts of ore as well as the fact that booms in any given part of the mining sector have historically only lasted a few years ("Gold's down, lets stop that for now and do nickel/cobalt!" type thing) mean that the mines themselves are often not particularly well engineered or safe. Then you've got blokes working 12 hours a day, everyday, up to 5/6 weeks at a stint. It leaves em constantly tired, unfocused, struggling to do their job. Workers live in demountables that are shifted around as the need arises and they aren't always really liveable, let alone comfortable or new. Then at the end of a stint they get flown out for a week or two off, and regardless of whether they stay in a city, go surfing, or head off overseas, they blow off steam. That sometimes means a week or two of drinking and fighting before getting back on the plane to work so hungover you can barely move.

But the thing I'm trying to get to is this. There are no rules except company rules. Might is right. And when young blokes have to work impossibly hard in extraordinarily dangerous conditions, they either get out fairly fast, or they develop some serious pride in their own skills and ability to work very very hard, live through the impossible, and not die doing it. There's a kind of savage joy in just surviving. Shit goes wrong all the time while the "days since accident" sign just keeps ticking on up.

That pride and joy rarely extends to blaming a mate for getting killed. When the wall or highside collapses, it just isn't your mate's fault that he died. It's the company's fucken fault. When you ran him over with a belly dumper, it's still usually the company's fault in one way or another.

But there's always (all my life anyway) been a rigidly enforced rule on major mines in WA. And that's no cameras. The company might be to blame, individual engineers might be to blame, the workshop might have fucked up fitting new brakes on a truck, but you are not allowed to do anything about it except mutter quietly. You take photos of accidents and you are fired. There's also half a chance you are threatened with legal action for breaching some non-disclosure agreement or another. On mines run by big companies, mainstream journos don't even fly over unless and until everything is cleaned up. And even then it's a condition of entry that any photos or video are vetted before the journo leaves. Accidents are quietly worked out with the branches of government tasked with doing nothing, and work goes on. Evidence.. is not supposed to exist.

Thus the tone of the blog. It's wild young blokes celebrating their own skill and survival. Eg "Whoohoo that's not my Tojo under the rear dumper!" But (noting the number of anonymous and undetailed photos present), it's also quiet resistance to the company attitude of "Hey you, just shut the fuck up and work harder."

The submission and presentation of photos here might often be couched in a set of safety messages, but I'd wager just a couple of dollars on the fact that the safety message regularly carries a glint in it's eye, or is just a straighforward defensive mechanism against getting fired.

That's not crazy. Wild, sure. But crazy, no.
posted by Ahab at 11:12 PM on April 14, 2012 [13 favorites]

Interesting that rear dump trucks are practically designed to kill the following operator in a rear end collision.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 PM on April 16, 2012

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