Mining is an important part of the American economy.
Over half of the electricity generated in the country comes from coal.
Sand, gravel, limestone, and other rock products are major resources in
the construction industry. Salt is used to keep wintry roads free of ice.
Gold, silver, iron, copper, and many other minerals are essential to our
the United States, there are over 500,000 abandoned mine sites and
nearly 14,000 active mines.
Active and abandoned mine sites have proved to be an
irresistible-and sometimes deadly-draw for children and adults. Recent tragedies include:
- A 16-year-old youth who suffered fatal injuries after his all-terrain vehicle became airborne at a gravel pit near Albany, New York.
- A young boy who was electrocuted after contacting a high power line while sliding down a stockpile at a sand and gravel mine in Grand Island, Nebraska, during its off-shift hours.
- Three young sisters who were playing in an abandoned East Milton,
Florida, clay pit and became trapped when a 20-foot-high ledge
collapsed during a rainstorm.
All three died after being buried by dirt and boulders.
- Two men who decided to explore a closed
mine in Virginia City, Nevada, died of carbon dioxide poisoning
within 75 feet of the entrance. They went around a fence to
enter the mine and ignored signs warning of bad air.
In Michigan there have been accidents at abandoned mine sites in the
past, including a young
child who fell into a shaft opening, a 16 year old who stumbled into a
cave-in, an older man who slipped into a flooded open pit, a child who
was buried when a gravel pit wall collapsed.
There are over 800 underground mines in Michigan with more than 2300
shafts, or other openings to the surface and many open pits and quarries.
Even though the mine sites may be
inspected by the county mine inspector, some old mines are
still unknown and unmarked and even when old mine sites are inspected,
there is no guarantee that a new cave-in may not occur the next day.
Therefore, be careful around former mining areas.
Do not cross fences. Be suspicious of any location where there are old
rotten fence posts and rusty barbed wire fences. Obey the signs
that read "Keep Out" and other warnings. Stay away from "Caving