Is Working in Gold Mine a Safe Job in the U.S.?

Gold mining

Certainly, working as a gold miner involves a significant amount of risks. However, it’s less likely to have an accident or injury if you are a gold miner working in the U.S.

A Brief About U.S. Gold Mining

The U.S. is currently the third largest gold producer in the world. It’s well-known that it started its gold mining history back in 1799 Reed’s Farm discovery, passing through California’s gold rush, and it’s still producing gold till today. The U.S. produced around 230 tonnes of gold in 2012 and most of it from Nevada, according to the U.S Geological Survey. The mining industry found its way back to the spotlight after the historical 12-years bull run in gold prices. The recent gold price surge lead to a new gold rush in South America, East Africa, West Africa, China and East-Asia, as individuals and mining companies alike are racing to find gold.

Most of the early mining was by artisanal miners and relatively small operations. Gold was much easier to obtain and find back there and many old miners such as the early forty-niners extracted gold simply by panning the rivers. However, larger mining operations formed placer mines and extracted gold by the newly developed at that time hydraulicking techniques. It was safer to mine gold than coal or other metals, as it easy to find native gold and recover it. Therefore, it was less likely for accidents to happen in gold mines.

Gold Miners in the U.S.

Mining in general involves great risks, such as poisonous gasses, intolerable heat, cave-ins and the usual danger of working in a confined place with heavy machines. By thinking about it, it’s almost the same dangerous environment as that in any modern manufacturing industry. However, rescuing is much more risky. So, after the proper training and if the safety procedures were taken, it’s the same as any job but with a higher salaries. For instance, the average salary of a factory worker is somewhere around $40,000 while the mine worker minimum average salary around $57,000. Both jobs don’t require a specific level of education unless you are seeking more advanced tasks. Both jobs require a good physical shape at entry levels and machine operation courses.

While mining is not a stroll by the river, it involved risks that some lead to fatalities. It’s always good to remember the past accidents to avoid any future danger. Here’s a list of documented gold mine accidents in the U.S. since 1900 till today.

  • 9 died in Koarsarge mine fire in Virginia, MT in 1903.
  • 37 died in Alaska-Mexican gold mine explosion in Treadwell, AK in 1910.
  • 7 died in Giroux gold mine fire in Ely, NV and another 17 died in Belmont mine in Tonopah, NV. Another 6 died in Keating gold mine explosion in Radersburg, MT in 1911, totaling in 30 deaths in gold mine this year.
  • 7 died in Mountain King gold mine in Mariposa County, CA due to lack of oxygen in 1917.
  • 47 died in Argonaut gold mine fire in Jackson, CA in 1922.
  • 3 died in Warrier gold mine explosion in Burgdorf, ID in 1981.
  • 2 died in Barrick Heat Stress from heat exhaustion during training in Elko, NV in 2002.

That sums 135 deaths in American gold mines from 1900 till now, which is far less than industrial disasters which claimed 146 lives just from 1990 till today. So, it’s safer to say that gold mining is as much dangerous as other industries. Perhaps the danger remind people in this industry to take extra care about what they are doing.