(Reuters) - The collapse of a Brazilian tailings dam owned by Vale last week ranks among the worst mining disasters in decades. More than 300 people are feared dead after the dam failure near the town of Brumadinho released a torrent of mining waste into Vale’s facilities and a nearby community in Minas Gerais state.
The IndustriALL union, which represents mining and energy, said the Brazilian dam disaster is already recognized as the most deadly labor accident in the history of Brazil.
It follows on from the country’s worst environmental incident in November 2015 when the collapse of the Samarco dam, operated by Vale and BHP, resulted in the death of 19 people.
Both the Samarco and the Brumadinho disasters involve the failure of upstream tailings dams.
The following is a list of other major accidents that resulted in more than 50 fatalities at mines worldwide over the past 50 years.
- 2014 TURKEY: A fire at the Soma coal mine in Turkey worsened carbon monoxide gases that caused the deaths of 301 people.
- 2013 CHINA: A landslide at the Gyama mine in Tibet killed at least 66. The mine was a subsidiary of China’s state-owned National Gold Group, the country’s largest gold producer.
- 2009 CHINA: An explosion at the Xinxing coal mine in Heilongjiang province killed 108 people.
- 2009 CHINA: An explosion at the Tunlan Coal Mine in Shanxi killed at least 73 workers.
- 2007 RUSSIA: At least 107 people were killed in a gas explosion at the Ulyanovskoe coal mine in the region of Kemerovo.
- 2007 CHINA: Floods at a coal mine run by Huayuan Mining Co caused the deaths of 172 miners when a river dyke burst in torrential rain.
- 2007 UKRAINE: A methane blast more than 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) underground at the Zasyadko mine in the Donbass coalfield’s main town, Donetsk, killed at least 63 miners.
- 2006 MEXICO: A methane explosion within a coal mine in Mexico’s Coahuila state, run by Grupo Mexico, killed 65 miners.
- 2005: CHINA: The Sunjiawan mine disaster in Fuxin killed 214 workers in a gas explosion.
- 2004: CHINA - The Daping mine in Henan province exploded, killing 148.
- 2004 - CHINA - A gas explosion at the state-owned Chenjiashan Coalmine in Shaanxi province killed 166 miners.
- 2000 UKRAINE: At least 80 coal miners were killed in a methane gas explosion at Barakova mine.
- 1995 SOUTH AFRICA: A locomotive fell down a lift shaft at the Vaal Reefs operations in the north west of South Africa, killing 104 people.
- 1990 - BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: 180 coal miners died after a gas explosion causes the main pit shaft to cave in at the colliery in Dobrnja, near Tuzla.
- 1986 SOUTH AFRICA: A fire killed 177 people at a Kinross gold mine in Evander Mpumalanga.
- 1985 ITALY: The collapse of a tailings dam at Stava, Trento, northern Italy, killed 268 people.
- 1980 UKRAINE: Some 66 people killed at Gorskaya mine in Ukraine following a methane explosion.
- 1975 INDIA: A wall collapse at the Chasnala Colliery triggered a flood that killed around 375 workers.
- 1968 UNITED STATES: An explosion at the Farmington coal mine in West Virginia resulted in the deaths of 78 workers and pushed the United States to improve coal safety standards.
Compiled from Reuters, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne, Polina Devitt in Moscow and Barbara Lewis in London, editing by Louise Heavens