Three Spanish geologists have died after a tunnel collapsed deep inside a potash mine in northeastern Spain on Thursday, officials said.
The accident occurred inside the Cabanasses de Súria mine just before 9 a.m., at a depth of 900 meters, local authorities said. Efforts were ongoing to secure the mine — around 80 kilometres northwest of Barcelona — and recover the bodies, they said.
The mine is operated by ICL Iberia, the Spanish subsidiary of Tel Aviv-based ICL Group. An official from the Spanish company confirmed that the three men were Spanish nationals and experienced geologists, and that two of them were postgraduate students at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia’s Manresa engineering school.
A minute’s silence was held at the university on Thursday afternoon.
Mine employee Carlos Arnaldo said the collapsed section was only built “a few days ago.” Catalonia’s regional head of business, Roger Torrent, stated that the mine had passed regular safety inspections. “The checks were regular. The last one was three weeks ago,” Torrent said.
Two workers died in similar circumstances at the same mine a decade ago.
Catalan regional president Pere Aragonès offered his condolences to families affected by the accident:
“Unfortunately, today we must confirm the death of three young people while they were doing tasks in the mine. And, therefore, in this sense, the first thing we want to convey is our condolences to the families of those three young people who were around 30. We want to convey my condolences to the families but also to all their fellow workers in the company”.
The regional government announced an investigation, and a judicial probe was also opened.
Around 20,000 people work in Spain’s mining sector, according to Energy Ministry statistics, a figure that has halved in the past two decades.
Between 2016 and 2021, the last year for which statistics were available, an average of four mining workers died annually in the southern European country.