First Nickel’s plan for Sudbury mine draws praise – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – July 23, 2014)

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

The owners of First Nickel Inc. have gone “over and above” standard in determining a method to allow workers to safely re-enter and return to work in the area of Lockerby Mine in which two drillers were killed May 6.

Normand Charles Bisaillon, 49, and Marc Methe, 34, were killed by a fall of material, preceded by seismic activity

The men worked for Taurus Drilling, and were not members of Mine Mill Local 598/Unifor, which represents about 150 production and maintenance workers at the mine. But Mine Mill has been involved in the company investigation into the men’s deaths.

First Nickel released a statement Tuesday saying it has been actively cooperating with the Ministry of Labour to determine a method to safely allow workers to re-enter the 65-2 level, an underfill heading, which has been closed since the tragedy.

“Although not ordered by the ministry, First Nickel suspended its underfill operations in all areas of the mine after the accident until satisfied that workers would not be put at risk,” First Nickel said in the statement.

After consulting with outside engineers, FNI developed a plan to resume work on the 65-2 level and in underfill headings, which ensures the safety of workers.

Local 598 president Anne Marie MacInnis called that plan “wonderful,” said she was pleased the company was implementing it said she would be posting it on the local’s website Wednesday.

It was presented to union leaders Tuesday and is being rolled out to Unifor members, to about 100 contractors who work for First Nickel and to United Steelworkers members who work in security at Lockerby Mine.

First Nickel said in its statement that the ministry has been given a copy of the engineer’s report, which outlines the plan and has advised that the affected level may be reopened.

The company will start underfill operations and reopen the 65-2 Level based on the recommendations in the report, it said in its statement.

“FNI has met with stakeholders to lay out the plan and has been in close communication with Unifor and Steelworkers … to address any concerns they have regarding the re-entry plan,” said the company.

In its statement, it thanked both unions for their assistance and support in restarting operations.

“FNI remains committed to the safety of the workforce and will continue to expend all resources necessary to ensure the wellbeing of anyone who enters the Lockerby mine,” said the company in its statement.

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