Archive | Mining Labour Issues and History – Sudbury and Global

Editorial: Renewed focus on mine safety in Ontario (Northern Miner – May 13, 2015)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

A newly released coroner jury’s verdict and recommendations stemming from the two-week inquest into the deaths of two miners at Vale’s underground Stobie nickel mine in Sudbury, Ont., in 2011 has met with wide approval from all players in the tragedy.

Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, were killed on June 8, 2011, when a run of muck overcame them while they worked at the 3,000-foot level near the No. 7 ore pass. They were moving muck through a transfer gate when a sudden release of 350 tons of sandy muck and water broke through the gate. Both miners died from smothering and compressional asphyxia, and Chenier also suffered blunt-force injuries.

It turns out a crash gate into the area where the two were working had been left open, so the muck, which had been stuck in the ore pass, came loose and flooded the area.

After pleading guilty to three of six charges in 2013, Vale received the largest Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) fine ever issued in Ontario for the violations. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 3-S.Africa’s AMCU union wants gold mining firms to double minimum pay – by Zandi Shabalala (Reuters India – May 13, 2015)

JOHANNESBURG, May 13 (Reuters) – South Africa’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) wants the basic pay for entry level workers in the gold mining industry to be more than doubled, setting the stage for tough pay talks at a time when companies are complaining of dwindling profits.

Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters on Wednesday his union, which led a record five-month long strike in the platinum industry last year, would seek a monthly wage of 12,500 rand ($1,045) for workers who currently earn around 6,000 rand.

“The mineworkers are enslaved across the country. Whatever we put forward is to liberate the mining workers from this oppression,” Mathunjwa said.

However, Africa’s top bullion producers AngloGold Ashanti , Sibanye Gold Harmony Gold and Pan African Resource’s Evander Mines say that high pay increases would lead to the decline of a struggling industry.

A spokeswoman for the gold mining companies said the firms would consider job security and the sustainability of the industry in wage talks. Continue Reading →

Ontario mining safety review prioritizing proposals (CBC News Sudbury – May 13, 2015)

After the fanfare of putting out mining safety proposals, they get shortlisted for action

Some members of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review are pushing ahead to turn safety recommendations into legislation. The chair of the committee, George Gritziotis is also the province’s Chief Prevention Officer.

He said he will soon be meeting with an advisory group which is prioritizing proposals from the review, as well as a recent inquest in Sudbury. Gritziotis said the 24 recommendations from the inquest into the deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier at Stobie Mine in Sudbury overlap, or dovetail, with the 18 from the review.

“You know there are recommendations in there that speak to hazards that are present in the workplace today that we want to move on right away,” he said.

“Following our May meeting, we will begin prioritizing which ones we are going to push forward on, and which are priority areas based on a number of things including risk assessment, our data around evidence and discussions we have with our partners. In terms of timeline it’s going to be a busy six to twelve months.” Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-South Africa mining union NUM vows to fight job cuts at Lonmin – by Zandi Shabalala and Silvia Antonioli (Reuters India – May 8, 2015)

JOHANNESBURG/LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) – South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Friday it would fight platinum producer Lonmin’s plan to cut 3,500 jobs, raising the prospect of a resurgence of the labour unrest that has plagued the sector.

Lonmin, the world’s third-largest producer of the precious metal, said on Thursday it needed to make the layoffs in response to depressed prices and it was holding talks with employees and unions at its South African mines.

But the NUM, which represents roughly 10 percent of Lonmin’s workers, said it was shocked by the announcement and had not yet been officially consulted.

“We are going to fight against any job losses … The platinum sector had cut 35,000 jobs since 2012 and it is time to join forces to end this bloodbath,” it added.

AMCU, by far the largest mining union with about 85 percent of Lonmin’s workers among its members, was unavailable for comment. Continue Reading →

Sudbury family ‘overwhelmed’ by recommendations – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – May 8, 2015)

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

A coroner’s jury went beyond the eight recommendations jointly submitted at an inquest into the deaths of two men at Vale’s Stobie Mine and added 16 of its own to improve mine safety in Sudbury, in Ontario and throughout Canada.

The three-woman, one-man jury accepted eight recommendations suggested and agreed upon by Vale, United Steelworkers Local 6500, the Ministry of Labour and the families of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram.

The first recommendation was that the Ministry of Labour implement the recommendations of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review regarding water management in mines and the internal responsibility system.

The review was struck in December 2013 in response to pressure by families and mine workers for an inquiry into mine safety after the Sudbury men’s deaths. Chenier, 35, and Fram, 26, were killed when a run of muck overcame them while they were working at the 3,000-foot level near the No. 7 ore pass. Continue Reading →

Sudbury should be proud of jury’s work: coroner – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – May 8, 2015)

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

The community owes a debt of gratitude to the work of the jury that made 24 recommendations to make mining safer in Ontario at the inquest into the deaths of two Vale workers. Presiding coroner Dr. David Eden said the issues surrounding the deaths of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram were complex and of great concern to the community.

The “very well-considered and essential questions” and “thoughtfulness and thoroughness” of the recommendations displayed the highest level of dedication and commitment on the part of the three women and one man who sat on the jury, said Eden.

A fifth juror had to drop out a week into the two-week inquest because of medical reasons. Eden read the recommendations Thursday at the Sudbury Courthouse. “The community that you represent here should be proud of your work,” Eden told the jury.

The jury answered five basic questions that are at the heart of every coroner’s inquest. They determined that Chenier, 35, and Fram, 26, were involved in an accident and were presumed to have died June 8, 2011, about 10 p.m. The men were pronounced dead by the attending coroner early the morning of June 9. Continue Reading →

Mine rescue teams from district converge on Timmins – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – May 6, 2015)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – It’s Ontario Mine Rescue competition week in Timmins. Beginning today and carrying through to Friday, mine rescue teams from Timmins and Kirkland Lake will be taking part in a double district competition.

Two of the North’s best-known mining communities will be holding their annual district events at the McIntyre Arena with four teams competing for the Timmins district title and four teams vying for the Kirkland Lake district title.

Competing for the bragging rights in Timmins are Glencore Kidd Operations who are last year’s local winners, Goldcorp Porcupine Gold Mines, Lake Shore Gold and Dumas Mining. Competing for the Kirkland Lake title are Kirkland Lake Gold Inc., AuRico Gold, SAS St. Andrew Goldfields Ltd., and Primero Gold Black Fox Mine.

By Friday night, two teams will emerge as district winners and with that they also win the right to represent their district at the All-Ontario Mine Rescue competition which is to be held in Thunder Bay on June 11 and 12. Timmins Mine Rescue officer Manny Cabral said the annual competitions are important to the overall mine rescue program because the competition teams learn from the annual exercise and bring that knowledge back to their mine rescue colleagues at their particular mine.

Continue Reading →

Inquest: Policies must be acted upon: miner – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – May 4, 2015)

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

The last time Ryan St. George saw Jordan Fram was about a week before the young miner’s death. Both were stopped at an intersection, St. George on his motorcycle and Fram in his new truck.

Fram yelled over to St. George: “Hey, you’re driving a motorcycle with shorts and sandals,” chiding him for not riding safely.

“That was Jordan. He cared about people,” said St. George at the last day of the inquest into the deaths of Fram, 26, and his supervisor Jason Chenier, 35, at Vale’s Stobie Mine.

St. George is a member of United Steelworkers Local 6500, a former miner who represented his union at the coroner’s inquest.

He gave what was one of several powerful closing statements Friday to a three-woman, one-man jury. A fifth juror dropped out a week into the proceedings because of medical reasons. St. George said he believes, like Fram, “that people care about each other. Continue Reading →

Sudbury Steelworkers ratify new contract with Vale (Sudbury Star – May 1, 2015)

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

United Steelworkers locals 6500 and 6200, representing production and maintenance employees in Sudbury and Port Colborne, have voted to accept a new five-year contract, Vale announced Friday.

The new agreement takes effect on June 1. When the polls closed earlier today, 76.7% of members in Sudbury and 87% of members in Port Colborne had voted in favour of the new five-year deal.

“We are extremely pleased with the outcome,” Mitch Medina, Vale’s lead negotiator, said in a release. “A new five-year agreement, delivered a month before the old contract expires, points to a maturing in our labour relations. By the time the new contract expires in 2020 we will have enjoyed an unprecedented full decade of labour peace.”

The new five-year deal contains improvements in contract language, wages, benefits and pensions. USW Locals 6500 and 6200 represent 2,800 production and maintenance employees in Sudbury and Port Colborne. Continue Reading →

Inquest: Jury urged to look at all mines with rec’s – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 30, 2015)

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

The project manager of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Review urged a coroner’s jury to consider making recommendations that will improve safety throughout all Ontario mines, not just at Vale’s Stobie Mine or at Sudbury mining operations.

Wayne DeL’Orme was the last witness to testify at the inquest into the deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier on June 8, 2011. Chenier, 35, was a supervisor for Vale and Fram, 26, was a miner. They were killed by a run of tons of muck that had been hung up in the No. 7 ore pass, let go and swamped the 3,000 level near the pass where they were working.

DeL’Orme told the three-woman, one-man jury Thursday that the role of the mining review was to look at all aspects of health and safety in underground mines and recommend ways to improve conditions.

It was prompted by a call for a full-blown mining inquiry after the deaths of the men at Stobie. A group called MINES (Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support) lobbied for a review, led by Wendy Fram, the mother of Jordan Fram. Thousands of postcards were sent to Labour minister demanding an inquiry. Continue Reading →

Charges laid in deaths of two Sudbury drillers – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 29, 2015)

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

Two companies are facing 13 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the deaths of two Sudbury drillers in almost a year ago, the Ministry of Labour announced Tuesday.

Norm Bisaillon, 49, and Marc Methe, 34, died May 6, 2014, at First Nickel Inc.’s Lockerby Mine.

Eight charges were laid against First Nickel, including:

– prevention of water accumulation or flow of water that might endanger a worker;

– ensuring an effective ground support system is installed;

– requirement that a report be made in writing of all dangerous conditions;

– the examination of and remediation of misfiring explosives; Continue Reading →

Superintendent warned about water levels – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 29, 2015)

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

A former superintendent at Stobie Mine who toured the underground facility the day two men were killed at its 3,000-foot level said he left the mine about noon with concerns about excess water and plugged drain holes.

Larry Lauzon was brought in June 8, 2011, to offer advice to superintendent Keith Birney about safety practices. Stobie routinely experiences constant problems due to water being funnelled from surface.

Stobie supervisor Jason Chenier, 35, and miner Jordan Fram, 26, were killed by a run of tons of muck on the 3,000-level. The incident is believed to have occurred about 9:45 p.m.

Lauzon testified Tuesday at the seventh day of the coroner’s inquest into their deaths that he noticed on his tour varying depths of water accumulation at several levels of Stobie’s B division, where the men were overcome by muck. He talked with Birnie, cautioning him to take water issues seriously, and spoke with workers they encountered on their tour about safe mining practices.

As he was leaving the mine, Lauzon said he looked for the mine manager to see if he was aware of water conditions in the mine. Continue Reading →

Day of Mourning: Labour vows to ‘fight for the living’ – by Connor Pringle (Sudbury Star – April 29, 2015)

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

Workers who were killed, injured or suffered illnesses from workplace conditions were mourned Tuesday during the 31st Annual Day of Mourning hosted by The Sudbury and District Labour Council and United Steel Workers Local 6500.

The Annual Day of Mourning recognizes workers killed, injured and who suffered illnesses while on the job.

“It’s a day to make a commitment to protect the living and to prevent future injuries and fatalities,” said Alain Arseneault, co-chair of maintenance/electrical for the Health, Safety and Environment Committee.

The day started 31 years ago, according to Arseneault, with April 28 chosen as that is the date the Ontario government proclaimed the first comprehensive Workers Compensation Act in Canada.

The Sudbury region was the first region to declare April 28 as the official Day of Mourning in Canada and across the world. The Steelworkers local says 44 deaths have occurred on company property since the first Day of Mourning. Continue Reading →

Occupational health: Workplace safety research centre opens – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – April 28, 2015)

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

In the heart of a building that is the epicentre of sports on the Laurentian University campus, cutting-edge research into workplace health and safety underway in the city for seven years finally has a place to call home.

The new Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health laboratory and research facility, which was made available by the university and consists of 1,695 square feet of laboratory space and 629 square feet of office and meeting space, officially opened in the Ben Avery building Monday.

“We are risk takers … and we are not going to stop until we get it right,” Tammy Eger, the centre’s research chairwoman and an associate professor in the Laurentian School of Human Kinetics, told more than 50 people on hand for the opening. “This centre is about community. It’s about the passion we have for health and safety…We’re going to develop the solutions, expand the knowledge and sustainability. We’re going to make a difference, not only in Northern Ontario, but nationally and internationally. This is your centre.”

The centre was established in 2008 by Laurentian to provide a formalized structure for industry, safe workplace associations, labour groups, government organizations, and researchers to share workplace injury and disease problems and solutions. Continue Reading →

Industrial deaths: Testimony painful at Chenier, Fram inquest – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – April 28, 2015)

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

Day 6 of the inquest into the June 8, 2011 deaths of Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram at Vale’s Stobie Mine moved into painful and sensitive territory Monday.

After a morning and an hour in the afternoon of technical testimony by Ministry of Labour inspectors, assistant crown attorney Rebecca Bald told the inquest jury the causes of death for the two men.

Thirty-five-year-old Chenier died of smothering, compressional asphyxia and blunt-force injuries, according to forensic pathologist Dr. Martin Queen, said Bald. The cause of death for Fram, 26, was smothering and compressional axphixia, said the lawyer, one of two assistant crown attorneys acting as counsel to presiding coroner Dr. David Eden.

Members of the Fram and Chenier families have attended every day of the inquest, sitting in the front rows of courtroom A at the Sudbury courthouse.

The inquest has heard the men were overcome by an explosive and violent run of hundreds of ton of muck – broken ore, sand, slimes and water – that was hung up in No. 7 ore pass, then burst through a control gate where they were working. Continue Reading →