Random Analytica

Random thoughts, charts, infographics & analysis. Not in that order

Month: September, 2013

Random Analytics: China Mining Fatalities (August 2013)

Xinhua had some interesting (and sobering statistics) on mining casualties. They include:

  • Mine accidents killed 37 workers for every 100-million metric tonnes of coal produced in 2012, down from 56.4 for 2011 but well above the US which reported 1.9 in that same year;
  • 1,384 fatalities occurred in Chinese coal mines in 2012, down from 1,973 in 2011 and 2,433 in 2010;
  • 93% of coal gas blasts were caused by poor ventilation.

China is acknowledged by many to be the most dangerous place on Earth to work in mining, especially when it comes to coal mining.

Currently updated to the end of the first week in September here is a look at the major incidents in the mining sector in China as reported by Xinhua and other media outlets.


  1 - ChinaMiningDeathsInfographic_130909                     

There have been 46-major incidents which have been reported by Xinhua. These incidents have recorded 446 confirmed fatalities and 236 injuries. 54-persons were reported as missing without confirmation of their subsequent rescue so the fatality count could be as high as 500.

As shown above Coal is the most dangerous resource to mine in China with 38-incidents (83%) and 320-deaths (72%). Copper was the second most dangerous resource by numbers with just two-incidents (4%) but 86-deaths (19%). Incidents in gold, sulphur and oil extraction accounted for the rest of the balance.

When it comes to the cause of major incidents which result in fatalities gas blasts make up slightly more than half of the current total with 18-incidents (39%) and 225-deaths (51%). Landslides were the second leading cause with 4-incidents (9%) and 103-deaths (23%) while poison gas also had 4-incidents (9%) but just 41-deaths (9%).

Other causes include flood (7-incidents, 20-deaths), mine collapse (4-incidents, 18-deaths), accidental explosive discharges (3-incidents, 17-deaths), fire (2-incidents, 15-deaths), electrocution (1-incident, 5-deaths), oil explosion (1-incident, 2-deaths). Two incidents (4-deaths) have an unknown cause.

There has been a lot of winter rain in China which has caused severe flooding in some parts of the country and increased the risk profile of landslides and flooding.

Another interesting data point is that at least seven incidents and 60-deaths can be confirmed in illegal mining operations.

Fatalities by Province

2 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyProvince_130909

The above infographic is the breakdown of incidents and fatalities by Province.

Fatalities by Month

3 - ChinaMiningDeathsbyMonth_130909

The final graph looks at reported mining deaths by month including provisional numbers for the current month. I have split the graph to show confirmed fatalities and those still missing at the time of the most recent incident reporting. It should be noted that often Chinese media will report a major incident but do not do follow-up updates.

To August the major incident average is 5.5 per month and the fatality average ranged from 54 to 60.75 (if you include those reported as missing).

To date the three most significant mining disasters of 2013 include:

  1. Jiama Copper Gold Polymetallic Landslide (29 March 2013): On a Friday morning a three kilometre landslide with more than 2-million cubic metres of rock and debris buried the Jiama Copper Gold Polymetallic company facility located within the Tibet Autonomous Zone and 83-workers who were onsite at the time. More than 1,000 first responders attended the scene along with 129 pieces of plant but unfortunately there were no survivors.
  2. Babao Coal Mine Gas Blasts (29 March & 1 April 2013): On the same day as the Jiama incident in Tibet a gas blast ripped through the Babao Coal Mine in Jilin Province killing 36 and wounding 12. At the time the company underreported the incident. The provincial government put an immediate halt on production for safety inspections but the mine management disregarded the order and sent further work crews into the shaft. A subsequent explosion occurred 3-days later killing a further 17 and wounding eight bringing the combined disaster total to 53-dead and 19 wounded. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) conducted investigations of the mine and found that coal had self- ignited and there were a lack of fire-preventing measures in place all caused by poor management practices. Senior managers have since been prosecuted, as have officials including the local mayor and members of the Work Safety Bureau.
  3. Taozigao Coal Mine Gas Blast (11 May 2013): As 108 unauthorised workers toiled in the Taozigao Coal Mine in Sichuan Province a gas blast erupted killing 28 and wounding 18. This incident is the largest known illegal mining disaster of 2013.

The most recent incident was at the Yangliutan Coal Mine in Guizhou Province, South West China when five workers were killed by electrocution and another three were hospitalised.

Final Thoughts

This analysis can only scratch the surface of what is going on in the Chinese mining industry.

A commonality of the 46 incidents reported by Xinhua was that they covered accidents which involved three or more persons. Thus, a huge amount of individual deaths and injuries that can happen on any mine in any part of the world including Australia must surely go unreported. There is also no way to validate this data against a Chinese regulator. In all fairness to the Chinese it is also difficult to get immediate injury and fatality data from Australian mining regulators and Work Cover entities.

Another factor here is illegal mining. To date at least seven incidents and 60-deaths occurred in illegal mines which have subsequently required a major rescue effort. How many unknown accidents and tragedies have gone unreported?

While China remains the most power hungry nation on the planet one unfortunate (yet certain) point can be taken from this analysis.

There will be more tragedies.


Note: I also complete a monthly Australian Mining Workforce Planning Scan. If you are interested you can find it here: Random Analytics: Mining Workforce Planning Scan (August 2013).

QuikStats: MERS-CoV (September 2013)

“I think the take-home message is: MERS is not SARS” (Zaid Memish, Deputy Health Minister, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 30th August 2013).

1 - MERS_Infographic_131001

***** Please note that this infographic of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was updated with public source information to 1200hrs 1 October 2013 EST *****

The above infographic shows the distribution of MERS-CoV by onset country. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has had the most cases and the numbers are reflective of the latest KSA Ministry of Health figures. The most recent fatality outside of the KSA that I have included in my data was from Tunisia. Some countries, such as France and the UK have had fatalities that are not shown above due to the fact that the onset occurred elsewhere in the Middle East. The Tunisia index case seems to have occurred in Qatar or the KSA but at this time is still included under that countries flag. Italy initially reported two cases but these were later amended to probably by WHO due to testing issues. A number of fatalities are not shown as their details have not been made public.

Ian M. Mackay, via his VDU blog has been discussing the spike in case numbers during the month of September. To emphasise his point here is the index chart that I published on the 4th September 2013 (110-cases & 50-deaths).

1 - MERS_Infographic_130904

Data can be many things to many people. For health investigators it is a critical resource to build a story about new or emerging diseases, for medical professionals it is a tool to inform while for the public it is a way to tell a complex epidemiological story in a more manageable format.

It has its drawbacks though. Data alone often tells a non-contextual story only.

Reading the back story on MERS-CoV I couldn’t help but reflect on the story of Abid Hussain (case number 10). Abid had travelled to his former home of Pakistan then visited Mecca to pray for his 39-year old son who had been diagnosed with cancer and was in the process of receiving chemotherapy. Upon his return to the UK he became unwell with severe flu like symptoms and either prior to being hospitalised or during his hospitalisation managed to pass on the disease to both of his adult children. The daughter only showed mild symptoms, did not require hospital admission and made a full recovery. The son, Khalid, a father of two and in the battle of his life could not stop a second assault on his system by MERS-CoV and succumbed to the disease just eight days after being admitted to hospital.

What terrible luck.

Acknowledgements: Data for this infographic was sourced largely from CIDRAP, H5N1, FluTrackers and the WHO. Background reading supplied mainly via Pandemic Information News, Ian at Virology Down Under and Helen Branswell.


  • Case numbers and fatalities have been updated regularly by multiple agencies. Here are the CIDRAP daily overviews which included case updates for the 3rd – 4th – 6th – 9th – 11th – 17th18th – 20th and the 30th of September 2013.

Random Analytics: Mining Workforce Planning Scan (Aug 2013)

The Mining Workforce Planning Scan is a mixed quantitative/qualitative report card built from relevant online industry magazines and media sources. Utilising 14 data items (expressed as categories) the scan collates relevant stories over a period of time (in this case a calendar month) to give a picture of how Australian MINING is positioned from a workforce planning perspective.

Election Bounce

If there was one key theme of the August it was that sentiment shifted from extremely negative to very positive. In fact, the sentiment reading of +14 was the highest I’ve recorded in 22-months of confirmed data.

With most commodity prices stabilised or increasing, the Australian dollar reducing into a more competitive range and miners now fully focussed on increasing productivity have we reached the point where the sector is on the rebound?

At this stage I’m going to say, maybe.

The mining industry has made no secret of its distrust and dislike of the current Labor government (no matter who leads it) and its desire to see a new Coalition team in place. No matter whom leads the next government the following is still true:

  • Commodity prices will still be dictated by China for the foreseeable future;
  • The Australian dollar will continue to rise or fall on the whim of US Federal Reserve decisions;
  • Mining took its eye of the productivity ball during the boom. Future productivity gains will come from the sectors ability to contain its structural costs by not re-inflating all of its input costs (again).

The data does look good for August. It’s certainly the best that I’ve seen in a long time.

It could just all be election bounce though.

Workforce Planning Categories

  2 - Mining_Categories_Aug2013_130902                     

The following chart is an 18-month look at 14 mining related workforce planning data items (expressed as categories) and the frequency of stories.

WH&S (Work Health & Safety) was the leading category with 20-stories (24.7%). Generally WH&S is one of the leading categories when mining is tracking well or during BAU (Business-As-Usual) as safety programs and incidents reporting is reasonably consistent (averaging 18.25-stories per month in 2013).

Employment was the second leading category with 19-stories (23.5%) as the mining sector paused its cost cutting activities after the election was called and recommenced discussing future prospects. L&D/R&D (Learning & Development/Research & Development) was the third category with 11-stories (13.6%) without any election related announcements.

Subjects that were not discussed in August were SkillsShort (Skills Shortages) and Work/Life (Working Life Fit often referred to as Work Life Balance). The last Skills Shortage story was in March, the only one of the year (or just 0.0006% of all stories). That’s not to say there are no operationally critical, critical or hard-to-fill roles in mining, just the sector has gone through two heavy phases of cost cutting and job shedding thus few employees are moving and turnover rates would be low.

Positive/Negative Index

3 - Mining_PosNegIndex_Aug2013_130902

The next chart is an 18-month look at 14 mining related workforce planning data items (expressed as categories) and their positive or negative weighting.

The most negative indicator for the month was IR (Industrial Relations) with a -4 sentiment. As the only negative reading greater than -1 and the most positive month in 22-months of data I wouldn’t read too much into this, especially during an election month. That said, with the Coalition almost certainly forming government next week IR could become a more interesting space.

L&D/R&D was the leading positive category with a +7 for August, the highest positive monthly indicator for 2013. There were a lot of announcements, like the Tasmanian University Research Lab co-funded with Newcrest or the University of Wollongong’s opening of the Joy Global Remote Access Facility as examples.

Given the recent $5.77-billion dollar write-off and job slashing I wonder where Newcrest found $2.5-million to open anything non-core business? Very curious.

Mining Employment Gains & Losses

4 - Mining_Employment_Aug2013_130902

The following table looks at the reported employment gains and losses. Job losses are actuals as reported by mining industry sources but often do not reflect the total loss of employment as some companies chose to limit information relating to redundancies. Employment gains are forecast and include infrastructure phases. Often employment gains are overstated as they link to public relations exercises.

With just 22-jobs confirmed lost and 6,885 jobs projected the employment numbers in August were very impressive.

Although it still has to complete the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities EIS the Waratah Coal project received Queensland State approval. Officially this project will generate 3,500 infrastructure jobs from 2014 and 2,300 operational jobs from 2016 onwards. As a rule of thumb I think of the coal industry as turning every four infrastructure jobs into one FTE when they commence operations. So 2,300 in 2016 is probably closer to around 900 operational roles.

The Shell Prelude floating LNG were a little more honest when they forecast their job numbers suggesting that 1,000 jobs would be created by 2017 including 350 on the platform and 650-indirectly. LNG is a worse converter of infrastructure to operations phase employment and this is a project where most of the construction is modulised offshore then shipped in. I’ll be following this one closely just to reset my modelling.

Internationally, job shedding is ongoing with 1,700 cut from Oyu Tolgoi (Mongolia) and 920 gone from Tampakan (Philippines).

Here’s a look at the Aug data.

5 - Mining_Data_Aug2013_130902

Story of the Month

The story of the month is the Workplace battle which looms over Collinsville and the increasing use of transit workforces as industrial relations instrument rather than a response to skills shortages or for economic considerations.

Final Thought or Prediction

With the two party preferred split currently sitting at 54-46 (2/09) in the Coalition’s favour it is highly probably there will be a change of government on Sunday.

I’ll enjoy reading this blog in three years but my prediction will be that a Coalition government will not necessarily mean a radical overhaul of Industrial Relations during their first term, even  with a strong push from the business community (*unless there is a massive downturn which impacts Australia).

Happy Election and don’t forget to vote.