Miracle Narratives & Blog Stats

Rescues increase stats.

Every time miners in China or Chile or elsewhere are “miraculously” saved after spending days or, in the recent case of miners at the San Jose gold and copper mine near Copiapo, Chile, weeks trapped beneath the earth’s surface, visits to the Coal Mountain blog skyrocket.

You can see it in the search terms: Chilean mining rescue, Chilean coal miners rescued (the default of all mine disasters is coal), Chile miners saved, miracle mine Chile, etc.

As Bertolt Brecht said, in not so many words: we love an Aristotlean narrative. News websites and tweets send out “breaking news” alerts every time miners are discovered alive underground—so much so that the story that was Sago came to be. And the public, clamoring for resolution and a happy ending, walks away satisfied.

These headlines and social media messages sublimate the true narrative of the global extractive industries (the daily death toll familiar to readers of this blog) for the miracle narrative of the San Jose mine in Chile or Wangjialing mine in northern China. Readers (and consumers) who follow the news don’t hear the headlines that readers of this blog are faced with almost every day: Sudan gold mine collapse kills 10, China mine fire kills 16, Mozambique mine collapse kills 7, Coal mine accident kills 28 in northwest China, 7 die in South African mines in 24 hours, etc.

Where are the “breaking news” headlines for these stories? Where are the readers and Google searchers for these narratives? And what is the result when readers of the news are only told the stories of the miraculous rescues and not the narratives of the daily tragedies in global mining?

The simple answer might be: mining continues, at its present or an increased pace. When the public is led to believe that mine disasters are usually resolved—that trapped miners, because the news tells us so, are regularly miraculously rescued—there is no reason for a public outcry to cease, suspend, or curtail mining operations.

So this blog, in the poetic tradition of “news that stays news,” will continue to make public the other side of the narrative: that for every Chilean or Chinese miracle, hundreds of miners (and their families) around the globe receive no happy resolution, no simple and joyous dénouement.

Death in the global mining sector lingers, continues; death in the global mining sector lives on and on, repeats and repeats. All joy for the 33 Chilean miners and their families aside (and I have so much of it), the miracle narratives are magicians’ tricks, deceptions. There is almost no happy resolution today in the global mining industry. Period.

Let’s start from that point and begin the discussion from there.

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