Lockerby Mine conditions concerned engineer – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – April 8, 2017)

A Ministry of Labour mining engineer assigned to investigate the scene of a double fatal mining accident at Lockerby Mine on May 6, 2014, was troubled by what he found.  Michael Kat said the area where the accident happened was so unstable he could not get to it.

“There was no telling what was on the verge of falling,” he testified Friday on the third day of an Ontario Court of Justice trial looking into a fall of ground that killed Norm Bisaillon, 49, and Marc Methe, 34.

They were working for contractor Taurus Drilling, which had been hired by First Nickel Inc. for production mining at the mine. While 1370918 Alberta ULC (the new owner of Taurus Drilling Services) is represented by counsel at the trial, First Nickel Inc. is now bankrupt, does not have representation and will be tried in absentia.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour laid 13 charges the case. The eight charges against First Nickel Inc. include failing to prevent the accumulation or flow of water, failing to ensure an effective ground support system was in place and failing the requirement that a written report be made of all dangerous work conditions.

Taurus Drilling Services was charged with not reporting misfiring or defective explosives to the ministry, failing to ensure safe ground condition programs were created and implemented, and failing to ensure proper communications about ground stability.

Lockerby Mine closed in early 2015 due to falling world nickel prices. Kat said the fall of ground occurred not from a rockburst or rock expulsion due to stress forces in the mine, but kinematic fracture — rock or material that fractures.

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