Vale pleads guilty, receives record fine

Ontario’s Ministry of Labor has fined Vale Canada C$1,050,000 in conjunction with the deaths of two Stobie miners on June 8, 2011.

Miners Jordan Fram, 26, and Jason Chenier, 35, died at the Stobie Nickel Mine in Sudbury after 350 tons of muck engulfed them when they opened a gate and material overflowed into the area at the 3,000-foot level. Work was temporarily suspended at Vale’s five Sudbury mines after three employees including Fram and Chenier had died within a seven-month period at Sudbury operations.

A Ministry of Labor investigation found that there had been a hang-up of wet muck in the ore pass at the Stobie Mine, as a result of Vale not dealing with water issues in the mine.

In a Sudbury courtroom Tuesday, Vale Canada Limited entered guilty pleas to three counts including: failing to prevent the movement of material through an ore pass while hazardous conditions existed; failing to maintain the drain holes at the 2,400 foot level of the mine, leading to accumulation of water, creating wet muck; and failing to ensure that water, slimes and other wet material were not dumped into the ore pass at the 2,600 foot level of the mine.

The company was fined C$350,000 for each count for a total fine of $1,050,000, the highest total fine levied by a Court in Ontario for contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In addition to the fine, Justice Randall Lalande imposed a 25% per victim fine surcharge, which is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist crime victims.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met August 30th with Steelworkers Local 6500 President Rick Bertrand, as well as the mother and sister of Jordan Fram—Wendy and Briana Fram—who are pushing for a full inquiry into mining safety in the province. All three are members of the Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support (MINES) committee.

Briana Fram told Sudbury Northern Life Canada that Wynne informed her that the province is leaning towards a review of mine safety, which would be less extensive.

Briana Fram said her family wants the province to make mining inquest recommendations mandatory. She cited the example of Clifford Bastien, who was killed in 1995 at Stobie under circumstances similar to Fram and Chenier. Briana Fram believes if the recommendations from the inquest into Bastien’s death had been implemented, her brother’s accident would not have happened.

During her late August visit to Sudbury, Premier Wynne told news media, “There hasn’t been a review of mining safety for many years, and that needs to happen.”

“We’re going to move ahead, one way or another, in terms of getting people together, finding practical solutions and making changes,” she stressed.

This article appeared courtesy of Mine Web. To read more daily international and mining finance news click here.

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