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Collapses complicate recovery efforts, rescuer says

Mine rescue teams from First Nickel Inc. and Glencore responded to the fall of ground that killed two underground drillers Tuesday morning. Sudbury is mourning the loss of Marc Methe, 34, and Norm Bissaillon.
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Collapses underground force rescuers to be extremely cautious, the director of Ontario mine rescue with Workplace Safety North says. File photo.
Mine rescue teams from First Nickel Inc. and Glencore responded to the fall of ground that killed two underground drillers Tuesday morning.

Sudbury is mourning the loss of Marc Methe, 34, and Norm Bissaillon.

Alex Gryska, director of Ontario mine rescue with Workplace Safety North, said the teams had to proceed with great caution in their rescue attempt.

“So often, especially with non-fire situations when you get into collapses, they're extremely difficult,” Gryska said. “If it's a rockburst, as it suggests, it occurs very quickly. If you're in the wrong place at the wrong time it can be very unforgiving.”

A rockburst is a violent release of energy that occurs when the weight and pressure from surrounding rocks causes the walls or pillars in a mine to collapse.

“With any kind of situation, like what I think was here, the teams would be extremely cautious,” Gryska said.

Ontario Mine Rescue was born out of the tragedy of the Hollinger Mine fire that claimed the lives of 39 miners in Timmins in 1928. It has continued to evolve since then.

Today, Workplace Safety North trains Ontario's mine rescue teams, which are made up of experienced miners with the various mining companies.

Mine rescuers start with a 40-hour introductory program, Gryska said, and are required to follow-up with six eight-hour refresher sessions each year.

Gryska said rescue team members who respond to an emergency typically have at least two years experience on their respective teams.


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