Mining review final report near end of March – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – February 18, 2015)

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

A much anticipated report on improving safety in Ontario mines will be released by the end of March, focusing on challenges in the mining sector today and those anticipated tomorrow, says the province’s chief prevention officer.

It will contain some recommendations that are regulatory and require amendments to mining legislation and others that are voluntary or industry-led, directed at employers, workers, health and safety committees, and other stakeholders.

The final report will be the result of 14 months’ work including several meetings by the stakeholder advisory panel, and public and private consultations with dozens and dozens of miners, more than 90 mining industry experts and several health and safety advocates.

George Gritziotis has been leading the mining review and he said he’s pleased with the way the final report is shaping up. Last week, he was going over a draft and consulting with panel members to put the finishing touches on it.

The Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review was ordered in December 2013 by then Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi after a Sudbury-led campaign to reduce the number of mining fatalities by improving working conditions underground.

A group called MINES (Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support) was demanding a full inquiry after two men were killed in a run of 350 tons of muck at Vale’s Stobie Mine. Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, died while working at the 3,000-level No. 7 ore pass chute of the century-old mine.

An investigation and report by United Steelworkers Local 6500, the union representing production and maintenance workers at Vale operations, found several troubling issues that needed correcting and could perhaps have prevented the fatal accident. Among them was excess water and the removal of protective barricades.

MINES didn’t get the inquiry it was calling for, but the comprehensive mining review was established and touted as a process that would be quicker and lead to faster results.

Gritziotis said that has been the case and action has been taken in two important areas before the review is complete. An issue that became evident “loud and clear” early in the review process was the need to improve ground control in Ontario mines.

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