A rescue operation for 39 miners who were trapped underground in northern Ontario over the weekend continues Monday, with their employer saying it expects all workers to come out later in the morning.
Mining company Vale says 19 workers have already returned to the surface early Monday and are doing well.
The company says workers were trapped in the Totten mine, west of Sudbury, on Sunday when a shovel sent underground broke off and blocked the mine shaft.
She explained that as a result, the “transportation system” to bring workers to and from the surface became unavailable.
Vale says the miners stayed in underground “refuge stations”, 900 to 1,200 meters underground, as part of normal company procedures. The mining company said on Monday that workers have access to food, water and medicine. Pascal Boucher, the union’s sector coordinator for Sudbury and the north, had ensured that the miners were able to make phone calls from the mine shaft, both to communicate with rescuers and to call their relatives.
They then began to work their way through a system of secondary exit ladders.
“We thank the affected employees for their patience and perseverance and the mine rescue teams for their continued dedication and support,” said Gord Gilpin, chief mining officer for Vale’s Ontario operations. It has been an incredible team effort. “
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday his thoughts were with the miners. “We understand that this rescue will take some time and we are very relieved to learn that the miners are currently unharmed,” he wrote on Twitter.
Kalem McSween, spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Labor, Training and Skills Development, said in an email that an inspection team would investigate the incident once the rescue operation is complete.
The Totten mine opened in 2014 in Worthington, Ontario, and produces copper, nickel and precious metals. It employs around 200 people.