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Oct 26, 2015


Industry News

Death casts pall over conference

[rt_reading_time] MIN READ

The death last week of a miner at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South Mine cast a shadow Sunday evening over the start of an international conference on mining safety which is now being held in Greater Sudbury – and in Canada for the first time ever.

Not only was a minute of silence observed by the speakers and more than 60 delegates on hand at the Vale Cavern at Science North, but the death of Richard Pigeau also drew mention in several speakers’ addresses, including one by Ontario Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn.

“Ontario is one of the safest jurisdictions in all of America in which to work and we know the mining industry continues to be one of the safest industries,” he said. “But it was brought home to us workers’ lives can be lost in a matter of seconds … It simply did not have to happen: Every workplace fatality is preventable. People in this room know that. People buy into that. And we need to spread the message.”

Pigeau, 54, who had more than 20 years of mining experience, was killed when he was struck by a piece of equipment on Oct. 20, according to the Ministry of Labour. The mine was shut down for three days as the investigation was conducted.

Flynn also said the province’s mining safety review, which concluded earlier this year and contained numerous recommendations, needs to be acted upon as quickly as possible to make the mining industry a safer place to work in.

“We need to implement these recommendations immediately and prevent future tragedies,” he said. “Safety in mining is very important to all of us …We need to know, and the people in the mines need to know, they will go home safe after their jobs (are done).”

The International Conference of Safety in Mines Research Institutes is being hosted by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum and the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation, based at Laurentian University. It is in its 36th year and is one of the oldest and most prestigious global conferences focusing on mining health and safety.

“I can’t think of a better place to hold this than in my community of Greater Sudbury, Canada’s mining capital, and in the Science North Cavern, which is unique,” Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger told delegates. “Our community has had a front-row seat to mining evolution and improvements in mining safety.”

The conference actually began Saturday with an all-day workshop entitled Control Strategies and Technologies for Diesel Aerosols and Gases, which was held at the Willet Green Miller Centre on the Laurentian campus. Over the conference’s four days, there will be workshops, technical sessions, panel discussions, presentations, a trade show and networking sessions.

Topics to be covered include mining safety research, ergonomics, contractor safety, and diesel emission reduction.

Delegates attending the conference are coming from across the globe. Notable speakers will include Mark Cutifani, chief executive officer of Anglo American, who once served in Greater Sudbury as chief operating officer for CVRD Inco from 2003-2007 and is the conference’s honourary chairman; United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard, who is a Greater Sudbury native; and Joe Main, United States assistant secretary for Labor for Mine Safety and Health.

The full conference program can be viewed at