BHP halts operations after mine death in Western Australia

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Sunday, February 5, 2006

A BHP Billiton nickel mine at Leinster, 645Km northeast of Perth, Western Australia has halted operations after the death of a mine worker. WA Police say Mark Quinn, 32, an employee of mining contractor MacMahon’s, working about 900 metres underground, was killed in an explosion.

The cause of the explosion is not yet known. Department of Community and Employment Protection investigators have travelled to the site from Kalgoorlie to conduct an inquiry.

Global resources giant BHP Billiton Ltd./Plc, says employees are being briefed and counselled over the incident. The mine will remain closed until the investigation is complete. Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

According to media reports, no-one else was injured in the explosion – the cause of which is not yet known. The accident comes almost two years after a BHP Billiton worker died in a gas explosion at the Boodarie iron plant in Port Hedland, WA. The plant was then abandoned after the incident in May 2004.

In April 2004, a man was killed at BHP Billiton’s Nelson Point facility, also at Port Hedland in WA. In May 2000 a truck driver was killed at a BHP Pilbara iron ore operation in WA. BHP Billiton employ some 37,000 people at over 100 operations in 25 countries.

Coal mines in the United States’ West Virginia district were also suspended earlier this week, due to increased amounts of miners’ deaths.

UN sponsored ceasefire in Israel-Lebanon begins

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Monday, August 14, 2006

At 5:00 a.m. GMT, a UN sponsored ceasefire between the IDF and Hezbollah took effect. Outside of isolated small arms fire, both sides seem to be abiding by it. Although fighting took place until just minutes before the ceasefire, no air strikes or rocket attacks have been reported since.

Israel has said that it will maintain ground forces in southern Lebanon until they are relieved by the peace-keeping force. Israel also said it will maintain the blockade so that Hezbollah cannot rearm. Hezbollah on the other hand insisted on its right to fight Israeli soldiers on Lebanese soil.

The international peace-keeping force may take 10 days to assemble, says the UN. It is expected to be headed up by French troops, complemented primarily by troops from Italy, which has volunteered up to 3,000 soldiers. Portugal, Finland and Spain will also consider deployments. Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Indonesia have been mentioned by the UN as sources of non-EU forces.

Within an hour of the ceasefire cars started heading south in Lebanon. Within hours thousands of Lebanese sought to return to their homes crowding roads, even as bulldozers were still trying to fill bomb craters. The Lebanese army was working hard to coordinate traffic and make-shift road repair.

“I’m so excited to see my home. I’d heard news it was completely destroyed, but even if there’s one room intact, I will stay there with my children,” said Sanaa Ayyad, who had with her a baby and two young boys.

The conflict has been going on for 39 days and has cost over 1,200 people their lives. In Lebanon, around 1,100 people have been killed, mostly civilians. 154 Israelis, including 114 soldiers, have been killed in the conflict.

Chair of European Parliament’s agricultural committee discusses biofuels with Wikinews

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Neil Parish, a Member of the European Parliament and the chair of the Agricultural committee of the European Parliament, was recently interviewed by Wikinews on the subject of biofuels and renewable transport. The interview was held after a workshop was held in the European Parliament on the subject of biofuels.

“I believe that the mixing of biofuels with mineral oils can provide us with significantly cleaner fuel,” said Mr. Parish.

In a press release by the European Parliament about the workshop, the legislative body stated some possible disadvantages to biofuels:

In the last year scientific evidence, though disputed, has indicated that biofuels may not be as good for the environment as was once thought. Critics point out that the intensive production of biofuels themselves may add to the release of nitrous oxide – a potent greenhouse gas. Also, the clearing of large tracts of forest to grow biofuels, especially in South America, may lead to the destruction of biodiversity, huge water usage and the felling of forests that act as huge ‘carbon sinks’.

In the interview Parish also said that encouraging public transport was an important method of combating climate change. Below is the relevant quote:

I believe that the way to deal with pollution caused by motor vehicles is not by making peoples lives more difficult or by pricing them out of their cars without giving them viable and cheap public alternatives. In many rural areas, cars are the only viable way of moving around and we need to remember this.

Mr. Parish also mentioned road pricing in the interview.

On a national level, the British government could look at a road pricing system which could replace the current vehicle tax regime, with revenue being placed back into public transport systems.

Biofuels are often used because they provide a way of limiting the emissions of carbon dioxide. Many people do, however, note that rainforest are destroyed to make space for the production of biofuels.

Detroit chemical plant experiences explosions, fire; residents evacuated/Brief

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The EQ Resource Recovery Inc. and EQ Holding Company chemical processing plant near Romulus, Michigan, about 15 miles southwest of Detroit, was the scene of explosions and fire on Tuesday evening, continuing into Wednesday. The cause of the explosions and fire has not yet been determined.

Firefighters announced their intention to let the fire burn itself out, which was estimated will take approximately 8 hours. However, parts of the fire continued to burn as of Wednesday evening. There were evacuations of approximately 3000 residents from the area, but no reports of any serious injuries or fatalities. However, approximately 20 people were treated for breathing problems at nearby Oakwood Annapolis Hospital. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is analyzing soot in the area to determine whether it poses a substantial health risk. The company in question has been the target of numerous enforcement actions by the EPA in the past, including a $240,000 fine in 1999.

A major chemical processed at the plant is acetone, the main ingredient in nail polish remover, which is known to be toxic in high dosages, especially to those with lung conditions. Acetone is also an eye and skin irritant.

Romulus is the site of the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), the primary airport for the Detroit area and a hub for Northwest Airlines. There was no indication that airport service would be affected.

Bomb attack in Londonderry, Northern Ireland injures two police officers

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Friday, October 8, 2010

A bomb exploded early on Tuesday morning in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, injuring two police officers. Investigations into the identity of the bombers and their motive are continuing. The Real Irish Republican Army a paramilitary group that aims to bring about a united Ireland, has claimed responsibility.

The explosion on Culmore Road caused serious damage to nearby buildings, including Da Vinci’s hotel and a branch of the Ulster Bank. A telephone warning was given an hour beforehand and the area, including the hotel, was cleared. The officers, standing near the edge of the exclusion zone, suffered injuries to their necks and ears when they were blown over by the blast.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin from the Police Service of Northern Ireland asked for anyone who had seen the Vauxhall Corsa car in which the bomb was hidden before the explosion to come forward. Although the bomb, thought to be over 200lb, was left near the bank, Mr Martin did not think it was the intended target and said that the bomb may have been left because of the presence of police in the area.

The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, called the bombers “Neanderthals” and “conflict junkies”, and added that they were “failing miserably” to destroy the peace process in Northern Ireland. He is attending the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham; the Daily Mail reports he refused to comment on if the attack was to coincide with his absence. The city’s mayor, Colm Eastwood, who was at the scene, said he was “disgusted”, adding “I do not know what these people are hoping to achieve. They say they love their country but they spend time trying to destroy it.”

Zimbabwe submits to popular pressure: foreign currencies now legal tender

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Zimbabwe has decided to abandon its currency, the Zimbabwean dollar, in favour of other currencies.

Acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced today that Zimbabweans will be allowed to make transactions in other currencies along with the local currency. “In line with the prevailing practices by the general public, [the] government is therefore allowing the use of multiple foreign currencies for business transactions alongside the Zimbabwean dollar,” he said, adding that the Zimbabwean dollar will not be removed from circulation and would be used alongside other currencies.

This decision comes during the current period of hyperinflation, which has massively devalued the Zimbabwean dollar. Banknotes up to $100 trillion have been printed, despite the removal of ten zeroes from the currency last summer to try to make transactions easier. The official inflation rate, last updated in July 2008, was 231,000,000% a year, although independent estimates place the number as high as 6.5×10108, or 6.5 quindecillion novemdecillion, percent.

Up to now, only vendors with licenses were legally able to accept foreign currencies, although the practice was widespread — private businesses altogether refuse to accept the unstable Zimbabwean dollar.

Large sections of the workforce, including teachers and doctors, have gone on strike because hyperinflation rapidly renders their wages worthless. Representative groups said salaries, now measured in trillions of dollars, are insufficient to pay for even the bus fare to work.

Zimbabwe also faces other crises, including a cholera epidemic that has claimed the lives of over 3,000 people, according to statistics from the World Health Organisation.

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Bowler Brett Lee to miss first Ashes Test

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Australia’s cricketer Brett Lee is out of the first Ashes test match – which starts on July 8 in Cardiff – with a torn muscle in his left side. He is also doubtful to play the second Test at Lord’s, which begins on July 16. It will be at least two weeks before he can start training in the nets again.

“I am very very disappointed and gutted that I will not be there for the first Test match but I will find a way to bounce back,” said Lee. “I still see myself hopefully playing a major role for Australia through the end part of the series, whether that’s the second, third, fourth or fifth Test match depending on how things go.”

The fast bowler complained about soreness in his left side after playing the England Lions at Worcester. Scans on Monday revealed he has a tear to his rib muscle. Other reports have described the injury as a strained abdominal muscle.

Kevin Pietersen commented on Lee’s absence saying it was “a huge, huge, huge loss” for Australia.

Australia now have to choose which player to pick as a replacement for Lee. Two likely options are spinner Nathan Hauritz or pace bowler Ben Hilfenhuas.

England will start their campaign on Wednesday to attempt to regain the ashes after Australia completed a 5-0 whitewash last time.

Race to save Chilean miners trapped underground from spiralling into depression continues

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

It has emerged that the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground after the mine they were working in collapsed could be brought to the surface in a shorter time than was initially feared. While officials publicly announced that the men would not be brought to the surface until Christmas, sources inside technical meetings have revealed that they could in fact be on the surface by early November. The news comes as families were allowed to speak by radio-telephone to their trapped loved ones on Sunday. Over the weekend, video images filmed by the miners emerged showing the miners playing dominoes at a table and singing the Chilean national anthem. The miners also used the camera to send video messages to their families on the surface, saying that they regularly broke into tears, but were feeling better having received food and water.

The grainy nightvision images, filmed on a high definition camcorder that was sent down a small shaft to the mine, show the men in good spirits, chanting “long live Chile, and long live the miners.” They are unshaven and stripped to the waist because of the heat underground, and are seen wearing white clinical trousers that have been designed to keep them dry. Giving a guided tour of the area they are occupying, Mario Sepúlveda, one of the miners, explains they have a “little cup to brush our teeth”, and a place where they pray each day. “We have everything organized,” he tells the camera. Gesturing to the table in the center of the room, he says that “we meet here every day. We plan, we have assemblies here every day so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33.” Another unidentified miner asks to rescuers, “get us out of here soon, please.” A thermometer is shown in the video, reading 29.5C (85F).

As the film continues, it becomes evident that the miners have stuck a poster of a topless woman on the wall. The miners appear shy, and one man puts his hand to his face, presumably dazzled by the light mounted on the cameraman’s helmet. One miner sent a message to his family. “Be calm”, he says. “We’re going to get out of here. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts.” Another said that the miners are “sure that there are people here in Chile that are big people, that are powerful people, that are intelligent people, and they have the technology and they will all work together to get us out of here.” Speaking to the camera, one says: “we have had the great fortune that trapped in this mine there are good, professional people. We have electricians, we have mechanics, we have machine operators and we will let you know that while you are working to rescue us on the surface, we are down here ready to help you too.” It has been reported that Mario Gómez, 63, has become the group’s “spiritual leader”, having worked in the mines for over fifty years. He has requested that materials to build a shrine be sent down to the cavern.

Upon seeing the video in a private screening, family members, who are living in a small village of tents at the entrance to the San José copper-gold mine—which they have named Camp Hope—were elated. “He’s skinny, bearded and it was painful to see him with his head hanging down, but I am so happy to see him alive”, said Ruth Contreras, the mother of Carlos Bravo, who is trapped in the mine. The video, of which only a small portion has been released to the public, shows the miners, many of them wearing helmets, cracking jokes and thanking the rescuers for their continued efforts. The supplies are being sent to the men through a small shaft only twelve centimeters wide, and a laboratory has been set up with the purpose of designing collapsible cots and miniature sandwiches, which can be sent down such a narrow space.

CNN reported on Friday that “officials are splitting the men into two shifts so one group sleeps while the other works or has leisure time .. On average, each man has lost 22 pounds (10 kilograms) since they became trapped three weeks ago, and dehydration remains a threat. But a survey of the men indicates that at least nine miners are still too overweight to fit through the proposed rescue shaft. Initially, the miners survived by draining water from a water-cooled piece of equipment. To stay hydrated in the 90-degree mine, each miner must drink eight or nine pints of water per day.”

But while there are jubilant celebrations on the surface that the miners are alive, officials are now nervous that the miners could become depressed, trapped in a dark room the size of a small apartment. Chilean health minister Jaime Mañalich said that, on the video, he saw the telltale signs of depression. “They are more isolated, they don’t want to be on the screen, they are not eating well”, he said. “I would say depression is the correct word.” He said that doctors who had watched the video had observed the men suffering from “severe dermatological problems.” Dr. Rodrigo Figueroa, head of the trauma, stress and disaster unit at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, explained that “following the euphoria of being discovered, the normal psychological reaction would be for the men to collapse in a combination of fatigue and stress … People who are trained for emergencies – like these miners – tend to minimize their own needs or to ignore them. When it is time to ask for help, they don’t.” NASA has advised emergency workers that entertaining the miners would be a good idea. They are to be sent a television system complete with taped football matches. Another dilemma facing Mañalich is whether the miners should be permitted to smoke underground. While nicotine gum has been delivered to the miners, sending down cigarettes is a plan that has not been ruled out.

With the news that drilling of the main rescue tunnel was expected to begin on Monday, officials have informed the media that they hope to have the miners out of the mine by Christmas—but sources with access to technical meetings have suggested that the miners could actually be rescued by the first week of November. A news report described the rescue plan—”the main focus is a machine that bores straight down to 688m and creates a chimney-type duct that could be used to haul the miners out one by one in a rescue basket. A second drilling operation will attempt to intercept a mining tunnel at a depth of roughly 350m. The miners would then have to make their way through several miles of dark, muddy tunnels and meet the rescue drill at roughly the halfway point of their current depth of 688m.” Iván Viveros Aranas, a Chilean policeman working at Camp Hope, told reporters that Chile “has shown a unity regardless of religion or social class. You see people arriving here just to volunteer, they have no relation at all to these families.”

But over the weekend, The New York Times reported that the “miners who have astonished the world with their discipline a half-mile underground will have to aid their own escape — clearing 3,000 to 4,000 tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday … The work will require about a half-dozen men working in shifts 24 hours a day.” Andrés Sougarret, a senior engineer involved in operating the drill said that “the miners are going to have to take out all that material as it falls.”

The families of those trapped were allowed to speak to them by radio-telephone on Sunday—a possibility that brought reassurance both the miners and those on the surface. The Intendant of the Atacama Region, Ximena Matas, said that there had been “moments of great emotion.” She continued to say that the families “listened with great interest and they both felt and realized that the men are well. This has been a very important moment, which no doubt strengthens their [the miners’] morale.” The phone line is thought to be quite temperamental, but it is hoped that soon, those in the mine and those in Camp Hope will be able to talk every day. “To hear his voice was a balm to my heart … He is aware that the rescue is not going to happen today, that it will take some time. He asked us to stay calm as everything is going to be OK … He sounded relaxed and since it was so short I didn’t manage to ask anything. Twenty seconds was nothing”, said said Jessica Cortés, who spoke to her husband Víctor Zamora, who was not even a miner, but a vehicle mechanic. “He went in that day because a vehicle had broken down inside the mine … At first they told us he had been crushed [to death].”

Esteban Rojas sent up a letter from inside the mine, proposing to his long-time partner Jessica Yáñez, 43. While they have officially been married for 25 years, their wedding was a civil service—but Rojas has now promised to have a church ceremony which is customary in Chile. “Please keep praying that we get out of this alive. And when I do get out, we will buy a dress and get married,” the letter read. Yáñez told a newspaper that she thought he was never going to ask her. “We have talked about it before, but he never asked me … He knows that however long it takes, I’ll wait for him, because with him I’ve been through good and bad.”

Light Switch Plates Perfect For Finishing Off The Look Of Your Space

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By Jesse Akre

If you are looking to add a nice finishing touch to your latest remodeling or redecorating project, turn to light switch plates. They are lovely decorative fixtures that would really add to the overall look of your space.

Now you might be thinking, light switch plates, what is so special about them? Well, whats special about them is the fact that they have really evolved into beautiful fixtures. You see, when they first came about they were just used to protect people from touching the electrical wires that allowed you to turn lights and off. However, even though they still provide that valuable function to this day, they have also become fixtures that are very pleasing to the eye because they are made out of so many different substances and can be finished off in a number of fabulous ways. For example, you can get one crafted out of wood that can be stained in different colors like cherry or espresso. Or, you can get a metal one that has a stainless steel brushed finish and even one crafted out of leather that features lovely designs.

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Since there are so many material and finishing options, there are hundreds of thousands of light switch plates to choose from. This is great for you because then you can easily find one to match the present dcor that you have going on in your space. Like maybe you have a very antique feel going on in your living room, then a great option for you would be something crafted out of metal that has an oil rubbed bronze finish. Or, another antique option is one that is still made from metal, but this time around it has detailed scrollwork. If you have a very modern feel going on in your space, then a great option for you would be something made out of stone that has a very chic, geometric appearance. And quite frankly, the choices do not stop there since you can also get ones made from porcelain, ceramic, plastic, wood, and many, many others. They all come in different finishes as well, like you can get a porcelain one that has a design painted on it or a ceramic one that has an enamel applied to it.

If you are interested in purchasing some new light switch plates for your space, a wonderful way to see all the lovely options is by hitting the Internet for some online shopping. You can compare products and their prices in no time at all, plus, when you do come across something you want, it is shipped right to your door. Talk about convenience because you dont even have to leave the comfort of your own home to get what you want.

When it comes down to it, light switch plates are a fantastic way to cap off the look of your newly remodeled or redecorated space. So, get some today so you can enjoy the completed appearance of your space tomorrow.

About the Author: Jesse Akre offers online consumers advice on lovely

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Over 60 illegal miners die in South African mine fire

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Over 60 miners were killed in an abandoned gold mine shaft near Welkom, in the Free State province of South Africa, after a fire broke out inside the mine.

36 bodies from the Harmony Gold mining company Eland mine shaft were brought up earlier on the weekend from depths up to 1.4 kilometers (1 mi). On Tuesday, 25 more bodies were recovered by other illegal workers.

“We suspect there was a fire on the 18th of May. We never saw any smoke. Over the weekend [30 May] we were informed by other illegal miners that people had died,” said Tom Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Harmony’s South Region, “The bodies are not burnt. It seems more of a case of gas or smoke inhalation. I don’t know if there are any more bodies down there, we just have to wait.”

The workers may have died from poisonous gasses, smoke inhalation, suffocation, cave-ins or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Harmony gold mine will not send anyone in to the mine as the conditions are extremely dangerous and abandoned shafts are without safety equipment. Illegal workers may gain access bypassing security at one mine site, and exit via a series of interconnected underground tunnels many miles away.

Harmony is internationally the fifth largest gold mining company and has bought up old, abandoned mines.

Police were seeking relatives to help identify the bodies, and are instigating an investigation into the circumstances.

Almost 300 “gold pirates” were arrested over the past two weeks at the Eland mine shaft alone. Thousands of illegal workers can be underground, and remain working for weeks and months continuously. “These are ex-miners and unemployed people – we need to target the syndicates,” said Smith.

There are over 4.18 million unemployed in South Africa due to the economic decline, and another 1 million may soon join the ranks.

Susan Shabangu, the minister of mining, extended her condolences.

Welkom, with a population of over 400,000 is located 160 kilometers (99 mi) northeast of Bloemfontein, the provincial capital.