Imagine scaling 25 fire towers. That’s essentially what underground workers at Totten Mine had to do after their cage was rendered inoperable on Sunday. “That’s a feat,” remarked one official with the United Steelworkers, which represents Vale miners. “It’s a fairly steep incline, usually around 72 degrees, like a ladder standing on the side of your house. So you are using your arms, your legs. It is physically and mentally challenging.”
As of Wednesday morning, all 39 miners who became trapped Sunday afternoon had safely made it to the surface, according to the company. The final four were individuals who needed a bit more help due to health issues or fitness levels, so their exit took longer.
Vale said support was provided throughout the ascent by responders with its own rescue team, as well as members of Ontario Mine Rescue, which is overseeing the extraction effort.
“Immediate on-site medical support was available to all employees upon reaching surface,” the company noted in a release. “Employees reported to surface healthy and eager to return home to family.” The normal route to daylight was cut off Sunday when the shaft was damaged by a scoop bucket slung underneath the cage.
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