Tragedy at [Sudbury] Stobie Mine a reminder of our spirit – Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – June 10, 2011)

The Sudbury Star, the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper. Brian MacLeod is the managing editor.

The tragic deaths of two miners at Stobie Mine on Wednesday night is a painful reminder to us that those who work underground are still the soul of this community.

Jordan Fram, 26, and Jason Chenier, 35, died when they were struck by broken rock at an ore pass 3,000 feet underground at Vale’s Stobie Mine. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Jason had been a miner for 11 years, and Jordan for six.

Vale’s general manager of Ontario operations, John Treen, called the deaths a devastating loss. Many members of the community have expressed their condolences online.

Virtually everyone in the community knows someone who works in one of the city’s mines. The willingness of thousands of workers to go underground each day is still the city’s raison d’etre.

That means tragedies such as this are felt and understood by all of us.

Mining has become safer as the industry has evolved technologically, but workers who descend thousands of feet underground in a cage each day still enter an environment in which things go wrong, and when they do, the consequences can be tragic.

That reality seemed distant during the past year, as labour issues dominated the mining scene. But in the end, the work must still be done in the bowels of the earth before the rest of the community can reap the benefits.

This is not the first mining tragedy to strike the city this year. In January, J.S. Redpath employee Richard Roy, 28, of Chelmsford, died while working underground at Xstrata’s Kidd Creek Mine in Timmins.

Underground mining remains an unforgiving environment.

In fact, harvesting our natural resources is the most hazardous labour pursuit in Canada. A study by the Centre for the Study of Living Standards showed that in the 10 years from 1996 to 2005, the most dangerous industry in which to work was mining, quarrying and oil wells, followed by logging and forestry.

These working environments will always be hard to control, but the best efforts must be made to make them safer.

Jason and Jordon were part of Greater Sudbury’s resolve. It is fitting that the entire community mourns them.

For we are, and always will be, a mining community.