Investigators combing mine [Sudbury Vale mining death] – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – January 31, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

The Ministry of Labour has issued two requirements of Vale Ltd. after the death of a 16-year employee early Sunday afternoon at the 4,215-foot level at Coleman Mine in Levack.

The first requirement is “don’t disturb the scene,” said ministry spokesman Matt Blajer. The ministry has also asked for a number of documents, such as training records and equipment information. Two ministry inspectors responded Sunday after the fatality was reported. Monday, they called in a ministry ground control engineer to help.

Blajer said the ministry was told the miner was “loading the face of the rock with explosives from a man basket when the incident occurred.” Blajer identified the area as the 4215 Level West T1 Cut 5.

The ministry is also asking Vale for its plans for the development of the heading at 36 West T1 Cut 5, he said.

Vale’s vice-president of mining and milling, Kelly Strong, told reporters Monday the miner, Stephen Perry, 47, was a development miner who was on a piece of mechanized equipment, when some material “came off the face or the front of the drift.

“We don’t know what happened from there,” said Strong, “but that’s certainly the cause of the accident.”

It appears that “a displacement of materials or rock” struck Perry.

He was brought to surface and pronounced dead by medical personnel.
Other Coleman employees on shift were brought above ground and debriefed.

Strong said there are different ways “you can have rock coming off ” the face. It can occur through seismic activity, which is monitored closely at mine sites, or through falls of ground.

“At this time, it’s too early to determine exactly” what happened.

Strong said it was his understanding the employee was using a piece of equipment to load to get ready to blast for the next shift.

Perry was killed in the middle of his shift.

The piece of equipment the employee was on is used to load explosives into drilled-off faces, and the man was in the process of loading.

“But that’s really got nothing to do with … the incident,” said Strong.

Pointing to a sketch of the 4,215 drift, Strong showed how Vale was “advancing the development” of a portion of an ore body that has been mined for a long time.

“You’d load that with explosives,” he said, “and then a piece of mechanized equipment comes in and takes the rock out or the ore.

“And then we’d have another piece of equipment come in there and put in your ground support… and then you start the process over again.”

Strong said Perry was “in the process of cycling that development” when he was killed.

Perry was working alone, which is not unusual.

“I can tell you the employee was skilled and experienced and highly respected by his fellow employees,” said Strong.

He said the employee’s loss will be felt deeply at Coleman and at all of Vale’s operations.
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