< HOME  Sunday, April 30, 2006

Miners' Lives ‘Not Worth It’ for Investors

I told you masks didn't kill those miners.
Government regulators and industry insiders say there is not enough profit potential to attract the capital needed to develop and manufacture modern tracking and communications equipment for coal mines.

There is also little incentive to increase production of established products like emergency air supplies carried by miners.

As a result, observers say it will be difficult, if not impossible, for mining companies to comply with new safety standards approved by West Virginia and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration after two accidents killed 14 West Virginia miners in January.

"Can we meet all the requirements of the law at the current time?" said Jim Dean, West Virginia's acting mine safety director. "That's pretty tough."
We can win a 'war on terror,' but we can't meet mining safety requirements?
[T]he market, as it exists now, is too small.
Oh yeah?
Coal mining is a giant industry, dominated by multibillion-dollar international companies. The United States has more than 625 underground coal mines employing 43,000 miners.
Doesn't sound small to me.
But industry insiders say those numbers are deceptive, especially when it comes to rare purchases like emergency communications equipment and air supplies. They say the market is small, stagnant and prone to boom-and-bust cycles.
What they REALLY mean is that the mining industry is CONTROLLED by a handful of MONOPOLIES that dictate prices to consumers and suppliers alike.

In many cases, the banks behind the coal companies are the same investors asked to cough up cash to develop safety equipment. Now, why would they want to exploit themselves?

So, while West Virginia's legislature has found miners' lives worthy of enacting legislation to protect them, investment bankers are nowhere to be found.

West Virginia now requires mines to provide emergency communication and tracking equipment, underground stockpiles of emergency breathing equipment and rescue chambers, among other things. And the mining agency has mandated that all underground coal mines store additional air supplies and install lifelines to guide miners to safety.

The problem is, much of that equipment does not exist. And what does exist, chiefly emergency air equipment, is scarce.
Mind you, it's not that there aren't innovators out there with ideas.
Entrepreneurs have come up with novel ideas for communications, tracking, air supplies and even emergency shelters in response to West Virginia's new law and federal rules.

Most of those products are still unavailable, [they have] not been deemed safe by regulators and would not be profitable because of the small market.

Let's face it, miners' lives are just not worth it for investment bankers.

So much for the "incentives" put in place by federal patents. Apparently, investment bankers need obscene profits GUARANTEED before they'll allocate their funny money - typical usurious moneylending mentality.

Watch them demand that the government give them MORE INCENTIVES to finance bringing safety products to market. As usual, we'll pay so they can profit.


At Monday, May 01, 2006, Blogger Lily said...

So what, they passed something to deal with public outcry, but now they find safety to be a losing proposition?

I downloaded some of the safety reports after the mind disaster to read about accident statistics and the PENALTY aspect. Why is it that we let mines operate with petty fines and multiple violations? Why are they never taken to task? let them eat the cost of safety and force them to comply with more than wrist slapping.

At Monday, May 01, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

Unfortunately, Elizabeth, they own practically everyone in our governments. And I do mean plural because it's not just the federal government.

These companies are so big that towns are often centered around them economically. Without federal investment in these areas these communities can't possibly object to their conduct. The companies would simply pack up and leave.

That's why the only solution is to nationalize (public not-for-profit) the banking system. The same should be done for energy, healthcare, insurance, and communications.

At Monday, May 01, 2006, Anonymous Mike said...

On top of what qrswave wrote. Seems that once an industry is monopolized/consolidated into the hands of the few any action from local gov't, unions, communities in general can be subverted in the name of profit. If they don't like what is being done (laws passed, etc) they can shut down the place, leave and find a place where they can get what they want or they shut down operations and wait long enough so that the collective memory of what happened and the desire for whatever work they provide gives reason to amend laws, etc. A corporation and monopoly has the ability to wait a lifetime or longer. Combine this with what looks like the owning of the gov't and wow what a hurdle to get over.

At Monday, May 01, 2006, Blogger qrswave said...

which is precisely why the monetary system (Federa Reserve) must be the first "industry" to be nationalized.

Our governments, both state and federal, are completely paralyzed without the ability to finance economic recovery.


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