Mali Mine Collapse Kills 70+

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Artisenal mines pose a great danger to miners. (Image Credit: AFP)

On January 24, 2024, a tragic incident occurred in Mali’s Koulikoro region, where a tunnel collapse took the lives of at least 40 workers at a gold mine. While initial estimates suggested a toll of over 70 fatalities, local authorities have confirmed 73 casualties among the 200-plus miners involved. Mali’s mining ministry has released a preliminary death toll exceeding 40. The government expresses heartfelt condolences to the affected families and the people of Mali, recognizing that mining accidents are unfortunately common due to unsafe practices employed by unregulated miners in their pursuit of gold.

In Mali, individuals of all ages engage in artisanal gold mining as a means of livelihood. Artisanal or small-scale mining involves labor-intensive, low-tech approaches and falls within the informal sector of the economy. They excavate shafts, labor underground, extract, transport, and crush the ore, and pan to extract gold. Approximately 12 percent of the world’s gold production is believed to originate from artisanal mines.

Abdoulaye Pona, the President of Mali’s Mines Chamber, leading a government delegation to the site on Thursday, announced on state radio that the death toll had surpassed 70, with one woman among the casualties. He emphasized that authorities will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. According to Baye Coulibaly, spokesperson for the Mines ministry, the informal miners were excavating in an area covered by Toubani Resources’ exploration permit.

Deaths in these types of mines are common due to a lack of regulation. Especially considering that Mali is one of the world’s largest gold exporters, many have called for stricter regulations in past incidents. For now, this incident is being called an accident with the government promising to look into solutions for the future.

Written by Aanya Shah

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