TIRANA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - An Albanian miner died and two out of seven wounded are fighting for their lives on Tuesday after the explosion of a pocket of hydrogen at the Bulqiza chrome mine managed by Austria’s DCM DECOmetal .
The Albanian Chrome Company (ACR), wholly owned by DCM DECOmetal, said a group of airing experts had gone down the mine to measure the amount of gas and prepare the ventilation pipes when they encountered the hydrogen pocket.
“After some time, when these experts were at a distance of 40 to 50 metres from the site of works, there was an explosion,” ACR said.
“As a consequence, ventilation expert Naim Shyti lost his life and seven other miners were wounded,” it added.
Shyti and another miner were trapped in the rubble. The other man was taken out alive by rescue teams.
The explosion comes after DCM DECOmetal and its 700 miners at Bulqiza agreed to end a strike of almost three months after DCM DECOmetal raised their wages by 20 percent.
DCM DECOmetal said the blast occurred when it started opening a new well to comply with the requirements of its concession agreement with Albania’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy.
The company said the specific reason for the explosion was not yet known, and ACR was awaiting the conclusions of a team of experts and the government agency in charge of mining standards.
Shyti is the first casualty at ACR since it took full control of the concession in 2008.
Fourteen miners have died in the last three years in the area of Bulqiza, one of the richest in chrome in the Balkans. They worked for some of the 60 companies exploiting the mines or the old stocks of chrome or else mined illegally. (Reporting By Benet Koleka, Editing by Will Waterman)