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Rescue of 39 from Totten nickel mine continues, no injuries

A Canadian mine rescue team. Credit: Workplace Safety North.

UPDATED Sept. 29: Early Wednesday morning Vale SA announced that all 39 miners had safely been brought to the surface from the Totten mine.

“I’d like to congratulate our rescue team,” Vale CEO Eduardo Bartolomeo said from Sudbury, where he met with employees and rescue personnel. “Bringing our 39 employees home safe and healthy was our top priority, and we’re glad that our emergency plans and procedures worked to deliver that outcome. All the employees are safe now and deserve our deep respect for their perseverance and strong will.”

On Tuesday, 35 of the 39 miners trapped underground at Vale SA’s (NYSE: VALE) Totten nickel mine in Sudbury, Ont., had been rescued. The miners, none of whom were injured, had been stuck underground following an incident that occurred on Sunday morning. All employees reported to the refuge stations where they had food, water and communication with the surface.

On Sunday, Sept. 26, a load-haul-dumper bucket slung under the cage became hung up in the shaft, meaning that shaft and cage access was blocked.

The mine rescue crew reached the trapped miners via the escapeway ladder, and the miners began climbing out on Monday. A team of doctors is on site checking each person as they emerge. The last person is expected to exit the mine by mid-day.

“We are relieved and delighted to see these individuals returning to surface safe and sound,” said Vale’s head of mining operations for Ontario said in a news release. “There is no doubt that this was and continues to be an exhausting experience. I comment them on the patience and the resolve. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of our mine rescue team and Totten responders who are working tirelessly to bring their colleagues to surface safely.”

Production at Totten was temporarily suspended, and Vale said it is assessing the necessary measures to resume mining.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)