Mines of the Sor Range

Coal is one of Balochistan’s main natural resources, and coal mining began here during British colonial times. The majority of coal miners come from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area, and they work as contracted labourers. Unsound safety and security conditions have made life very difficult for the non-local miners. - Photos and text by Mukhtar Azad

Usually these miners stick to the profession of mining for the rest of their working life. According to health experts, airborne particles of coal cause diseases like asthma and other ailments of the respiratory tract and lungs.
Usually these miners stick to the profession of mining for the rest of their working life. According to health experts, airborne particles of coal cause diseases like asthma and other ailments of the respiratory tract and lungs.
Preparing to go into a mine: entry into the mine is still done in the traditional way. In 2011, in a Sor Range mine, 43 miners were killed due to a gas build-up. Sub-par safety precautions were established as the cause of the accident.
Preparing to go into a mine: entry into the mine is still done in the traditional way. In 2011, in a Sor Range mine, 43 miners were killed due to a gas build-up. Sub-par safety precautions were established as the cause of the accident.
Currently there are many small and large coal mines in Balochistan. This is the main entrance of a mine located on the Quetta-Sibi highway, 28 kilometers from the provincial capital.
Currently there are many small and large coal mines in Balochistan. This is the main entrance of a mine located on the Quetta-Sibi highway, 28 kilometers from the provincial capital.
The entrance tunnel to a mine. Trolleys loaded with coal transport it out of the mine via winding tracks.
The entrance tunnel to a mine. Trolleys loaded with coal transport it out of the mine via winding tracks.
A tunnel of several hundred metres leading to the bottom of the mine. A board with guide-lines for the miners explains the code of bells that is used in the mine: Bells are supposed to be rung as signals while descending, ascending and exiting the mine.
A tunnel of several hundred metres leading to the bottom of the mine. A board with guide-lines for the miners explains the code of bells that is used in the mine: Bells are supposed to be rung as signals while descending, ascending and exiting the mine.
Underground, inside the mine: The lift system which takes coal and miners up and down between the mine and the surface.
Underground, inside the mine: The lift system which takes coal and miners up and down between the mine and the surface.
Before entering the tunnel leading deep underground, the supervisor scrawls a chalk map for the miners to indicate directions through the tunnels inside the mine.
Before entering the tunnel leading deep underground, the supervisor scrawls a chalk map for the miners to indicate directions through the tunnels inside the mine.
A tired miner sits on a coal sack, waiting for the supervisor to ring the bell so that he can go up. Mining in Balochistan is said to be the most difficult in the world.
A tired miner sits on a coal sack, waiting for the supervisor to ring the bell so that he can go up. Mining in Balochistan is said to be the most difficult in the world.
These colonial era trolleys that bring out coal sacks from inside the mine were powered by small motors when they were introduced, and are still functioning today ? but without the motors. They are now pushed by hand.
These colonial era trolleys that bring out coal sacks from inside the mine were powered by small motors when they were introduced, and are still functioning today ? but without the motors. They are now pushed by hand.
Normally, locals from Balochistan do not like mining. In recent times miners from outside the province have had to face aggression from militants. In July this year many non-native miners were kidnapped from the Sor Range and murdered.
Normally, locals from Balochistan do not like mining. In recent times miners from outside the province have had to face aggression from militants. In July this year many non-native miners were kidnapped from the Sor Range and murdered.
Due to the numerous hazards of working there, the majority of non-local miners have left. Yousuf Gill, is among those who consider the income from mining enough to risk his health and life.
Due to the numerous hazards of working there, the majority of non-local miners have left. Yousuf Gill, is among those who consider the income from mining enough to risk his health and life.
A miner taking coal filled sacks to the trucks standing below. Health experts say that this coal mining environment is extremely hazardous to health.
A miner taking coal filled sacks to the trucks standing below. Health experts say that this coal mining environment is extremely hazardous to health.
In recent times coal miners demand that the government provide for at least the safety of their lives, if not for their health.
In recent times coal miners demand that the government provide for at least the safety of their lives, if not for their health.
Old, outdated guidelines that are used in the running of the mines are the main cause of health hazards. A view of the Sor Range lake, whose waters have become toxic and very dangerous for the ecosystem.
Old, outdated guidelines that are used in the running of the mines are the main cause of health hazards. A view of the Sor Range lake, whose waters have become toxic and very dangerous for the ecosystem.
Balochistan has high deposits of coal which can possibly alleviate some of the energy crisis, however whether it is the local coal miners and truck drivers ? health and safety are important concerns to be addressed for them.
Balochistan has high deposits of coal which can possibly alleviate some of the energy crisis, however whether it is the local coal miners and truck drivers ? health and safety are important concerns to be addressed for them.

Email

Comments (3) Closed

Aslam
Aug 28, 2012 09:18am
These colonial era trolleys that bring out coal sacks from inside the mine were powered by small motors when they were introduced, and are still functioning today ? but without the motors. They are now pushed by hand....The British left the subcontinent 65 years back and even after so many years using their existing technology is considered outdated - but hear we have moved backward and using them without motors!!!
Recommend 0
Kantesh
Aug 28, 2012 10:46am
I filmed my documentary film on the working conditions of coal miners in pakistan during my academic period in 2008 as my final year thesis...........plz watch this too..........http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7CwA-XLn5g
Recommend 0
Asim
Aug 28, 2012 05:20pm
Aslam, non of us are surprised. The world may be surprised to see this, but non of us (Pakistanis) are surprised. We need leadership that understands the issues and is capable of placing the priorities of its citizenry at core. Enforce regulations, invest in infrastructure and everyone will reap the rewards via higher output. Its basic management. We lack that in every institution.
Recommend 0