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Labour ministry says it is investigating Totten Mine incident

Spokesperson says ministry has already issued eight orders to Vale.
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Vale's Totten Mine is located about 40 kilometres west of Copper Cliff. Employing about 200 people, copper, nickel and precious metals are mined at the site.

An incident at Vale’s Totten Mine on Sunday that rendered the cage lift inoperable and forced 39 miners to use secondary egress ladders to ascend out of the Worthington-area mine is under investigation by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD).

The mine cage lift was put out of commission after a scoop bucket being slung into the mine became lodged in the shaft at the 650 foot level, causing damage to about a 100-foot section of the shaft.

In a situation that has grabbed national media headlines, the Vale employees gradually emerged from the mine last week with the help of mine rescue, with the last group coming out at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. 

A spokesperson for the MLTSD said in an email the ministry has “engaged workplace parties and a ministry team, including experts in health and safety inspections and engineering,” and “is now proceeding with an investigation to check for contraventions with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Mining regulations.”

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the MLTSD had issued eight orders to Vale. When an inspector determines that a contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act is occurring, they issue orders to the appropriate workplace party to bring them into compliance. 

“Our thoughts are with workers in the mine and the difficult experience they have gone through,” said the ministry statement.

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