Third party probes [Timmins mine] blast – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – July 24, 2014)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – It could take as long as week for Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines (PGM) to find out what went wrong Tuesday when a blast threw a piece of rock into the company’s parking lot at the old Hollinger Mine building.

PGM Timmins mine general manager Marc Lauzier revealed Wednesday that a third-party consultant is being brought in to try to figure how the rock escaped the blast zone during a routine blast Tuesday morning at the Hollinger open pit.

“We had a small blast of about 13,500 tonnes or so, near surface. A piece of flyrock was expunged from the blast and landed in the parking lot on one our employee vehicles,” Lauzier explained.

“Immediately we suspended all blasting activities. Of course public safety is our No. 1 concern, so I want to understand what caused a piece of rock to land in the parking lot and what is going to be done to prevent this in the future.”

The consultant will be reviewing blasting procedures and video of the incident, since Goldcorp makes a video record of every blast at the new mine. This is the first known incident involving flyrock landing outside the mining zone since the first blast at the Hollinger pit occurred back in February.

“So until I get the results of that investigation and we are comfortable that we can blast without this reoccurring, we won’t be blasting,” Lauzier said. “And so it will take about a week to do the investigation properly.”

Lauzier also said the incident was unexpected.

“I certainly don’t want to see flyrock. It certainly happens in open pits from time to time, but in this case we are closer to the community, so yeah I would say it is unexpected.”

When asked if it was possible that not enough blasting mats were deployed, Lauzier said there are more than enough mats at the job to cover any situation, but added he was not going to speculate on what may or may not have occurred. Lauzier said the initial work to create the first bench, the first level, of an open-pit mine can be a complex procedure.

“The first is the first bench, when you’re doing all the pioneering activities where you’re breaking all the rock, and trying to even out the first bench, those are really difficult blasts,” he said. “And so, was it something out of the ordinary? No we’ve been blasting there for four or five months and it has been very successful. But obviously something was different yesterday (Tuesday) and we’ve got to figure out what that was.”

When The Daily Press asked if the rock that landed on the car was the only rock to escape the blast zone, Lauzier said yes.

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