Smoke has spread throughout the Vorkutinskaya coal mine in the Komi region, Russia on Friday afternoon, which triggered the evacuation of more than 200 workers from two mines, with no injuries being reported, the company said.
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"On February 3 at 3:45 p.m. Moscow time, smoke was reported to have emerged in the control equipment point at the Vorkutinskaya mine. The smoke had spread along the outgoing ventilation air stream of the mine. Shift workers in the Vorkutinskaya (113 people) and Zapolyarny (106 people) mines were taken up to the surface, as they [the mines] have a single ventilation system. There were no casualties," the statement said.
A paramilitary mine rescue squad of the Emergencies Ministry promptly arrived at the scene. The mine site was cut off from power, the company added. According to the Komi emergency department, five rescue squads were dispatched to the mine at 3:45 p.m. Moscow Time as soon as the fire was reported.
The Vorkutinskaya coal mine has been operating since 1973. Its mineable reserves are about 40 million tons of coal, which will enable the mine to operate for almost 50 years with its current production capacity of 1.8 tons of coal per year. The Zapolyarny mine was opened in 1949.
According to experts, its mineable coal reserves will last for at least 20-25 years.
The Vorkutaugol JSC coal producer is the backbone enterprise in the polar city of Vorkuta in the Komi Republic. The company owns four underground coal mines, one open-pit coal mine, and several auxiliary enterprises, with a collective workforce of about 6,000 people.
The smoke may have been caused by a new conveyor motor, Komi Governor Vladimir Uiba said on Friday, as the mines have a single ventilation system.
"According to preliminary information, the source of the smoke came from a motor that had been changed at the conveyor, it appears to have broken down and caused the smoke. But the most important thing is that all the employees have been taken up to the surface. Miners’ lives are not in danger," the governor said in a video posted on his Telegram channel. ■