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May 7, 2014

2 workers killed at Sudbury nickel mine

By Allison Martell
TORONTO (Reuters) — Two workers at First Nickel's Lockerby Mine have died in an accident underground at the Sudbury, Ont. operation, the company said on May 6, bringing the total to six of those killed in area mines in the past three years.
First Nickel said both workers, Norm Bissaillon, 49, and Marc Methe, 34, were drillers employed by Taurus Drilling Services. In a statement, First Nickel said Bissaillon was a dedicated and experienced underground miner with over 20 years of experience, and Methe had been with Taurus for about four years and was committed and enthusiastic about the trade.

The company said "a fall of material" which was "preceded by seismic activity" is believed to have been a factor in the accident. All underground work at the northern Ontario mine has been suspended. The company is also working closely with Taurus Drilling to ensure that the miners’ families receive counselling support, and counselling has also been provided for all employees and workers on site.

Senior operations management at First Nickel are working with government authorities to thoroughly investigate the accident.

"Safety is the top priority for the company and we take it very seriously. We are committed to a full and thorough investigation," said Thomas Boehlert, president and CEO of First Nickel.

Ontario is in the midst of a mine safety review, looking at the effectiveness of health and safety rules, enforcement and prevention in the industry.

The review came after more than a year of lobbying by families and friends of two men killed in 2011 at another Sudbury mine, owned by Vale SA, as well labour leaders and other allies. The Brazilian miner was hit with a record $1.05 million fine for that incident last year. It pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the province's workplace safety law.

Last month one worker was killed and another was injured at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter in Sudbury. Another worker was killed at Vale's Coleman mine in Sudbury in January 2012.

(Additional reporting by Nicole Mordant and by COS staff).