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Vale slapped with $1M fine for Canadian miner deaths

Keywords: Tags  nickel, copper, Vale Canada, Vale, Stobie Mine, Sudbury, worker deaths, Occupational Health and Safety Act Kelly Strong

NEW YORK — Vale Canada Ltd. pleaded guilty to three counts of workplace safety negligence that led to the deaths of two employees at the company’s Stobie Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, two years ago.

The subsidiary of Rio de Janeiro-based Vale SA was fined Canadian $1.05 million ($1.02 million) by the Ontario Court of Justice—the largest fine ever levied in Ontario for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act—and ordered to pay a 25-percent "victim fine surcharge," which will go toward a special provincial government fund to assist victims’ families.

Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram were killed June 8, 2011, after an uncontrolled release of wet muck at an ore pass erupted at the copper-nickel mine. An Ontario Ministry of Labor investigation found that there had been a hang-up of wet muck in the ore pass, and the eruption was a result of Vale’s failure to address water issues in the mine.

Vale pleaded guilty to failing to prevent the movement of material through an ore pass while hazardous conditions existed; failing to maintain the drain holes of the Stobie Mine, leading to the accumulation of water, creating wet muck which then hung up; and failing to ensure that water, slimes and other wet material was not dumped into the ore pass.

Vale vice president of Ontario and U.K. operations Kelly Strong said in a statement that the company had concentrated significant efforts and resources on understanding what happened at the Stobie Mine in 2011.

"We continue to put in place measures to make our plants and mines as safe as possible," Strong said. "Nothing we can say or do can ever turn back the clock and bring Jason and Jordan back, but we will continue to honor their memories through our unwavering focus on safety and reaching zero harm in our workplace."

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