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Ozarks Miners Watch W. Virginia Tragedy From Afar

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/ozarksmine_6397.mp3

The occupation of mining has garnished attention again this week after an accident in a West Virginia coal mine killed 25 miners. Four are still missing. The Ozarks also has a rich history of mining. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports on the special bond miners say they share.

Joplin was founded in 1873 as a mining town, and the lead and zinc mined there fueled the city’s economy up until World War II.

Bob Roscoe is vice president of mining for the Doe Run Mining Company, which has lead and mineral mines near Salem, in south-central Missouri. His father was a miner and he’s worked underground, too.

He says the men and women who go underground share a special bond, and whenever a disaster strikes, all miners feel it.

“Not just nationally, but worldwide, we have quite a fraternity of mining people, as well as some in the mine rescue business,” he says.

He says the mining culture is centered around safety and taking care of each other.

“It requires everyone to watch out for themselves and watch out for the people they work with. That’s the real bond you see especially in crews that work together underground,” he says.

“Everyone has to work together. It’s teamwork. And everyone’s safety depends on the person they’re working with. There’s a ‘buddy system.’ And that creates bonds that last lifetimes,” he said.

Watching the news coverage of the West Virginia tragedy is hard enough for most people. But, Roscoe says, for miners, it feels like a unique family.

Many songs and poems have been devoted to miners and the unique work they’ve done over the generations. This Saturday night’s edition of Seldom Heard Music on KSMU will be devoted entirely to such music. As always, Seldom Heard Music begins at 7:00.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.