Dam Collapses in Siberian Gold Mine, Killing at Least 15 Miners

A dam collapsed at a gold mine in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk region, leaving at least 15 people dead, the Ministry of Emergency Situations said on its website, according to Reuters

The collapse happened at about 2 a.m. Moscow time near one of the small local gold mining companies’ operations, the ministry said. Another 13 people are still missing as emergency services continue rescue work.

The water damaged temporary shelters where miners were sleeping, Interfax news agency reported, citing unidentified local officials. As many as 80 people were in the shelters at the time. The dam wasn’t registered with the Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service and was illegal, the newswire said, citing unidentified representatives of the watchdog. Prosecutors have opened an investigation into the case. 

President Vladimir Putin ordered local authorities to provide all the needed help for the victims of the dam collapse.

More stringent checks on mining dam operations came into force in January after a deadly collapse at a Vale SA mine killed at least 249 people in Brazil. That investigation is still ongoing.

Russia is one of the world’s top gold producers with most of its output coming from large professional industrial mines. However, alluvial production, which is usually operated by small firms, still contributes some of the country’s gold.

Alluvial or artisanal gold mining in Russia is usually small-scale but is still conducted by officially registered firms that are supposed to abide by health and safety rules.