Sadness greets Sudbury Lockerby Mine deaths – by Star Staff (Sudbury Star – May 7, 2014)

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

It’s the responsibility of all Ontarians to work together to stop senseless tragedies from occurring in the province’s mines, says the chair of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review.

George Gritziotis, Chief Prevention Officer for the Province of Ontario, said he was shocked and saddened Tuesday to learn of the deaths of two men early Tuesday at First Nickel’s Lockerby Mine.

Norm Bissaillon, 49, and Marc Methe, 34, contract drillers with Taurus Drilling Services, were killed in a fall of material, preceded by seismic activity, which is believed to have been a factor in the accident.

Gritziotis released a statement Tuesday saying his thoughts and prayers were with the men’s families and colleagues, and with the people of Sudbury.

“These tragedies are devastating to the community. I know the people of Sudbury, miners everywhere and all Ontarians are shaken by these tragedies,” he said.

He called the deaths unacceptable and said “we must find better ways of protecting people who go into mines every day to earn a living. No job is worth a life. All of us have the responsibility to work together to do what we can to stop these senseless tragedies from happening again.”

The year-long review Gritziotis is leading is largely the result of the call for a full-blown inquiry into mining practices in Ontario after the June 8, 2011, deaths of two men at Vale’s Stobie Mine.

Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, were killed by a run of 350 tons of muck. An exhaustive United Steelworkers investigation into their deaths pointed out problems with water in the mine and other safety hazards.

Just months later, development miner Stephen Perry, 47, was killed at Vale’s Coleman Mine.

On April 6 of this year, millwright Paul Rochette, 36, was killed and a 28-year-old millwright critically injured in an accident at Vale’s Copper Cliff Smelter Complex.

Vale and the union to which Rochette and the other millwright belonged, United Steelworkers Local 6500, are conducting a joint investigation into that accident.

With the deaths of Bissaillon and Methe, six men have died in Sudbury mining operations in less than three years.

Michael Gravelle, minister of Northern Development and Mines, called Tuesday a sad day for the families and colleagues of the two men killed at Lockerby Mine.

“We are absolutely committed to mine safety in the province of Ontario and to making sure our miners go home to their families at the end of their shift. Every injury or fatality is one too many,” said Gravelle in a statement.

He spoke of the review Gritziotis is leading, saying it will build on “productive discussions” with a lobby group called MINES, United Steelworkers, the Ontario Mining Association and others mining partners.

Those discussions will lead to recommendations on how to make mining workplaces safer, said Gravelle.

“We need to work together to ensure our mines are a safe workplace. These important consultations will allow the mining sector to provide input and advice on the major issues in mining health and safety,” he said.

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