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All 39 Vale miners surface after underground fire at Thompson

by Greg Klein | April 6, 2015

No injuries were reported after the last of 39 miners returned following a fire at Vale’s (NYSE:VALE) Thompson, Manitoba nickel operation, the Winnipeg Free Press reported April 6. The blaze broke out in remote-controlled machinery 850 metres underground around 3:30 p.m. the previous day. Miners waited out the ordeal in refuge stations stocked with oxygen and supplies for an extended period.

All 39 Vale miners surface after underground fire at Thompson

A Vale file photo shows Thompson
employees in rescue gear.

Workers in an adjoining mine also took refuge but surfaced Sunday night. Others were stuck until early Monday afternoon, when air quality was deemed satisfactory.

Vale’s Manitoba operations consist of the Thompson and Birchtree mines, the Thompson mill, Thompson smelter and Thompson refinery. They employ about 1,500 people, the company states.

In November 2013, the Free Press reported Vale faced 10 charges under Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Act resulting from the death of a Thompson miner in 2011.

Last week CBC reported three Sudbury employees of Vale face 17 charges under Ontario legislation following a fatality last year at the Copper Cliff smelter.

A September fire at PotashCorp’s (TSX:POT) Allan mine in Saskatchewan trapped 96 miners underground, some of them for more than 36 hours. Another fire the previous February kept more than 50 Agrium TSX:AGU workers in refuge stations overnight.

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