At 60 years old, Perry Venedam was one of the oldest miners stranded underground at Vale’s Totten Mine on Sunday after a piece of equipment being slung to the bottom became lodged in the shaft and put the cage lift system out of operation.
Along with 39 other Vale employees, he was forced to use a secondary egress ladder system to ascend out of the mine with the help of mine rescuers, who ensured they were able to climb safely with the help of fall arrest equipment.
In a situation that has grabbed national media headlines, the Vale employees have gradually emerged from the mine this week, with the last group coming out at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday morning.
With more than 30 years of underground experience under his belt, Venedam, a heavy equipment mechanic who’s been with Vale for 16 years, helped to keep the other employees calm as they ascended to the surface. A younger man who was climbing along with him said his arms were starting to get sore, so Venedam said they should stop and take a break, that they were in no rush.
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