The Mexican government halted operations at 32 small coal mines in the northern state of Coahuila on Thursday due to safety issues that have already caused the death of 13 coal miners in the last three weeks.
According to Azteca Noticias the closures will last as long as needed while inspections allow authorities to determine which mines are safe to work on and which are not.
Mexico’s Minister of Economy, Bruno Ferrari, told the newspaper that the government was aiming to set “exemplary sanctions.”
“It requires hard work and determination, because we are talking about human lives, and those who do not give them safe and healthy working conditions are committing crimes," he added.
Coal mining is a major job source for the Coahuila residents, but highly unregulated.
In 2006 methane explosion at Piedras Negras mine in the same state, owned by Grupo Mexico, caused the death of 65 miners.