Home » Tragic Death Strikes Radomiro Tomic Mine, Workers Launch Indefinite Strike

Tragic Death Strikes Radomiro Tomic Mine, Workers Launch Indefinite Strike

Fatal Accident Prompts Urgent Call for Improved Safety Measures

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe
Radomiro Tomic mine accident

A tragic accident resulting in the death of Ana Camila Rojas Farías has spurred a significant strike at Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic mine, halting production indefinitely. The incident, which occurred on March 8, saw unionized workers block the mine’s entrance in protest against what they claim are severe safety oversights and maintenance failures.

Rojas Farías, a 30-year-old employee, met her demise while operating an extraction truck that unexpectedly burst into flames. This incident has cast a spotlight on the mine’s safety protocols, prompting an investigation by police and the National Geology and Mining Service. The findings of this investigation remain pending, leaving the community and workers in suspense.

In response to the accident, the Antofagasta Labor Directorate intervened, ordering the suspension of extractor truck operations. Codelco, the state mining company, took preemptive action by halting operations, a decision later mandated to extend to all heavy machinery usage by the supervisory agency. This comprehensive stoppage will undergo reassessment following a thorough evaluation of the damaged truck.

Codelco issued a statement expressing its condolences and reaffirmed its commitment to safety as a core value. However, this is not the first time Radomiro Tomic has been the site of fatal accidents. A similar incident in 2020 claimed the life of a 33-year-old operator, highlighting a pattern of safety concerns at the mine.

The broader context reveals a worrying trend of accidents across Codelco’s operations. In recent years, incidents at El Teniente and Chuqui Subterranea, among others, have resulted in multiple fatalities, raising questions about the mining giant’s safety culture and practices. Codelco has faced sanctions 29 times between 2021 and 2023 due to seven fatal accidents, predominantly occurring in project construction rather than routine operations. The company attributes some of the maintenance issues to delays and equipment failures exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted supply chains and staffing.

These delays have also impacted structural projects, compelling the company to continue using machinery slated for retirement. This scenario emphasizes the challenges faced by the world’s largest copper supplier in balancing productivity with safety and maintenance. The strike at Radomiro Tomic mine is a somber reminder of the inherent dangers of mining and the critical importance of rigorous safety standards and maintenance practices. As Chile commands a significant portion of the global copper market, with Codelco contributing a quarter of the country’s output, the implications of these strikes and accidents resonate far beyond local concerns, touching on global copper supply and the ethical responsibilities of major mining operations.

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