Nevada Mining

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

"When I went to bed last night, the story was 12 guys survived and I got up this morning and found out that wasn't true at all."

Bert Bellows was a miner in Nevada for 25 years, spending ten of those years working in an underground mine.
He says hard rock mining in Nevada is very different from the coal mining in West Virginia that killed 12 people this week, but despite differences the danger still exists.

"One of the things about coal mining that makes it very dangerous is the atmosphere created by the material you are mining."

He says that methane could easily be exposed when you cut into a rock and ignite a spark in the process, the combination creates an instant explosion, he says, that can happen despite any safeguards.
However, Alan Coyner with the Nevada Division of Minerals, says this type of explosion will not happen in Nevada.

"We have no coal and coal is the material that creates the methane gas that caused the explosion in West Virginia. Again, we have no coal in Nevada, so an explosion is not possible here."

Bellows was involved with mine rescue training for six years, and he says, everyone who works in underground mines is equipped and trained to survive until a rescue, but the mix of methane gas in the West Virginia mine quickly made the entire space deep into the mountain a deadly environment because of the lack of oxygen.

"If they survive the initial explosion that's what you do, barricade and wait for somebody to come get you because if you try to hike two miles to what you think is safety, one breath of this atmosphere and you'll be gone."


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