The Ministry of Labour has issued 12 orders against Vale Ltd., six of them stop-work orders, halting production at the company’s Coleman Mine in Levack until they are met.
The Labour ministry was contacted Wednesday after a night shift of about 85 production and maintenance workers refused to go underground because it had health and safety concerns.
The workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 6500, had complained about the odour of smoke wafting into the mine through a fresh air raise in parts of the main ore body at Coleman.
The odour was first detected Friday of last week and workers were sent home. It was determined the smell of smoke was coming from neighbouring Levack Mine, owned by KGHM International Ltd. Vale has an agreement with the Polish-owned company to pump air to Coleman.
Vale prepared a job hazard analysis after Friday’s event, and presented it to the day shift at Coleman on Wednesday morning. Rather than send workers underground, employees were presented with the option of either going home or doing work on surface.
When the night crew reported Wednesday, it was also presented with a job hazard analysis, but was expected to go underground. Workers refused and the Labour ministry was contacted. An inspector was dispatched to the mine Thursday morning.
When a morning shift of about 90 people arrived Thursday, it was again presented with a job hazard analysis and this time was expected to begin work. Those workers refused to go underground.
The ministry inspector met Thursday with two worker members of the joint health and safety committee, as well as Vale’s health and safety co-ordinator and its maintenance manager.
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