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Italian miners barricade themselves to call attention to mine

From Livia Borghese, for CNN
updated 12:16 PM EDT, Mon August 27, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • More than 100 miners are holed up nearly 1,300 feet down in a carbon mine in Sardinia
  • They are concerned about the government's lack of action on the mine's future
  • Miner: We "have to defend the only income source of 470 families"
  • Previous such protests have lasted as long as 100 days

Rome (CNN) -- More than 100 miners have barricaded themselves with explosives inside a carbon mine on the Italian island of Sardinia as they seek to persuade the government to invest in the mine's future.

The strike began Sunday night with 40 miners holed up with roughly 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives. An additional 80 joined them Monday in their position nearly 400 meters (1,300 feet) deep in the Nuraxi Ficu mine, according to Sandro Mereu, one of the workers at the mine and a trade union representative.

"We had a meeting with the regional authorities this morning, but the problem is the central government is not showing interest in the development plans of the mine zone," Mereu said.

Union spokesman Stefano Meletti told Italy's official ANSA news agency Monday that the miners want "political answers" to ensure job security in a region beset by economic woes.

The workers want the government to move forward with plans to relaunch production at the mine, ANSA reported.

Mereu said workers "have to defend the only income source of 470 families."

Previous such protests have lasted as long as 100 days.

The mine is owned by the Sardinia region and is expected to be privatized.

"Since 2009, there is a project for the construction of a new power plant with a high-tech carbon capture and storage system," said Alessandra Zedda, the regional industry minister. "We need to know how much the government is ready to invest before" a December deadline.

Zedda said that the mine's future will be discussed in Rome during a meeting scheduled for Friday.

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