Nickel Rim miners return to work today – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – October 23, 2015)

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

It will be with heavy hearts and no doubt an eerie sense of their own vulnerability that miners return to work at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South facility near Skead tomorrow. Operations were scheduled to resume Friday, according to a Reuters report, after being shut down Tuesday due to the underground fatality of employee Richard Pigeau.

The worker, 54, was killed when he was struck by a piece of equipment, the Ministry of Labour reported. According to CBC, the accident occurred 5,000 feet below the surface.

Little else is known, however, about the circumstances of the tragedy, pending the outcome of a Ministry of Labour investigation and a separate probe that will be carried out jointly between Mine Mill 598/Unifor and the employer.

No funeral arrangements had been made publicly available by Thursday and the family of the late miner were asking that their privacy be respected in this difficult time. It has become clear, though, that Pigeau was neither a rookie miner nor a newcomer to the Sudbury area.

“He came from my riding and it’s a family with deep roots in Nickel Belt,” said MP France Gelinas, who asked for a minute of silence at Queen’s Park on Thursday to honour the fallen miner.

The MP said she let the silence speak more than her own voice, as she was too emotional to say much. “I had a tough time keeping it together, so my comments were brief,” she said.

Pigeau had been employed with Glencore (and Falconbridge before that) for more than 20 years, she said, and was well liked and respected in the community.

“I know two of his daughters, and he was well known by a lot of workers, well known by his union,” she said. “He was a good man who got up every day for the last 20 years to go and work in the mine and raise his family. It wasn’t his first trip down a mine shaft, that’s for sure. And then on Tuesday it all went wrong.”

The MP said some details of the workplace tragedy had been communicated to her but she was reluctant to discuss them out of respect for the investigation process and the family’s request for privacy.

“At some point the Ministry of Labour information has to be public, and when that time comes the details about the accident and the machinery will be out there,” she said. “Until then, the family is very, very reluctant about details going out.”

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