Disaster Strikes Tanzanite Mine

The Associated Press reported that 42 miners were killed in an underground accident at the Mererani tanzanite mines in Tanzania. Apparently, an air compressor failed after a planned blast in an area of Block B worked by small-scale miners, and the subsequent lack of oxygen proved deadly. In the first hours after the accident, AP reported that 14 bodies had been recovered.

The Tanzanian minister of mines ordered that all mining be halted. AFGEM, the large-scale South African mining operator located in Block C, also shut down operations to help with the recovery efforts.

The last mining disaster in Mererani occurred in 1998, when heavy rains flooded the mines and killed 68 people. (See “Mining Disaster Puts Tanzanite on Endangered List,” JCK, June 1998, p. 48 and “A View of the Tanzanite Mining Catastrophe,” JCK, July 1998, p. 40.)