Run of muck killed 2 miners at [Vale] Stobie [mine in Sudbury] – Harald Carmichael (Sudbury Star – June 10, 2011)

The Sudbury Star, the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. hcarmichael@thesudburystar.com

“It takes eight to 10 years to really train a miner under-ground and that
is if he is with an experienced miner,” said one miner, who declined to
give his name. … “You develop instincts. … You have to be able to ‘read’
the ground … “What is the ground doing? Why is it (rock) so crumbly? “

‘A devasting loss’

Vale management and workers in Sudbury are reeling from the deaths of two young miners, killed late Wednesday on the 3,000-foot level of Stobie Mine.

“This is a devastating loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends and coworkers of these employees,” Jon Treen, general manager of Vale’s Ontario operations, said Thursday in Copper Cliff.

“We are all feeling this loss very deeply and we will be concentrating our efforts on understanding exactly what happened and how to prevent it in the future.”

The two men — identified by Greater Sudbury Police as Jordan Fram, 26, and Jason Chenier, 35 — were working in the No. 7 ore pass area when a run of muck — broken ore pieces — struck them, said Treen.

Chenier and Fram had 11 and six years experience, respectively.

“Both workers are skilled employees and wonderful people,” he said. “Words cannot express how deep our sorrow is at their loss.”

Three five-person mine rescue teams reached the accident scene in 80 minutes. While the primary Vale mine rescue team for Greater Sudbury operations is now in Marathon attending a provincial competition, the company has a pool of 80 trained people to call in, said Treen.

When the mine rescue teams reached the two men, neither had vital signs.

“It took us a while to reach one individual,” said Treen. “The mine rescue teams did a tremendous job. They had to remove some of the ore to get them.”

There were 60 miners in the mine, which has been in operation since 1944, at the time of the accident. Treen said day and night shifts at the mine had been cancelled, but the goal was to resume production during the next 24 hours.

Greater Sudbury Police investigators spent the night at the accident scene and were expected to release it to Ministry of Labour investigators later in the day Thursday.

Vale and United Steelworkers Local 6500 investigators are also looking into the accident.

“We have a very good investigative team that works with the 6500 investigators,” said Treen.

When asked how the accident might have happened, Treen said he could not comment.

“At this point in time, we have to figure out what happened (through) the investigation,” he said.

Treen did say that one of the men would have been operating a scooptram, while the other would have been assisting.

“Working and operating in the ore pass is fairly common,” he said. “We won’t know what they were doing until the investigation is complete.”

Joe Guido, a Local 6500 representative who attended the press conference, told reporters the union’s “deepest condolences” go out to the families of the two men.

He declined to comment on how the accident might have happened.

“We really can’t comment,” he said. “It would be unfair to do so.”

Greater Sudbury Police Const. Bert Lapalme said police investigators worked through the night at the mine.

“I know they spoke to a number of (Stobie) workers last night,” he said. “At this point, it’s trying to put the pieces together and determine if there was any criminal activity. Then, it will be turned over to the Ministry of Labour.”

Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand said Mike Bond, chairman of the local’s health and safety committee, had been to the accident scene.

The last time a fatality occurred at a local Vale (formerly Inco) worksite was in March 2006, also at Stobie Mine. Robert Nesbitt, 57, was crushed by a concrete and steel platform while remotely operating a scooptram.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3162888

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