In Womb of the Black Mountains

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All through my life, I have explored many kilometres of underground passages in the caves, old workings, catacombs, crypts, rocky monasteries and even in the pyramids. But my first visit to an operating mine happened in Karatau, a place, known for the phosphate production. Contrary to my expectations, there was no feeling that 340 metres of rocks "are hanging over my head". In the mine there were the lights and people, and it looked rather like the corridors and workshops of a plant and not like the caves or catacombs.

There is no silence in the mine. Such a special silence. Even far from the mining machines and loading points. Water is dripping, air is sizzling in the pipes. The atmosphere in a mine is wet and musty. Despite 15 degrees, I got wet while we were walking a mile to our "frontline". Water is the worse enemy of the miners. While we were going down in the elevator’s open cage, it flew by even streams on all sides, and later it always appeared on the floor of the mine, despite the fact that the walls are concreted.

Mostly, the young people work in the mines. However, you can meet the workers in their 60s in our mines. And what they can do, if together with the circus and ballet actors, they shall work like the other people until retirement when turning 63? If among our establishment there were the representatives of mining industry, maybe the situation with the retirement age could be different.  But the subsoils are dark, wet and dusty, and therefore, the meeting of our authorities are gathered in much better places under the sun.

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