The charges were laid in relation to the deaths of two miners at Vale’s Stobie Mine nearly a year ago. Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram were killed June 8, 2011 when they were buried by a run of muck.
The president of the union, Rick Bertrand, is calling for a provincial inquiry into mining, with an emphasis on water management issues, monitoring and enforcement.
He’s also asking that the office of the attorney general consider laying criminal charges under the Westray Act relating to the incident, as well as possible legislative changes to ensure the safety of miners.
The Steelworkers, who represent Vale miners, came up with the recommendations after their own investigation of the incident.
“After doing the investigation report that we did, which was pretty comprehensive, I wasn’t surprised there would be charges,” Bertrand said. “I really feel the charges were warranted.”
However, they “fall far short of the urgent, comprehensive action that is needed to better protect workers and to ensure justice for families whose loved ones are needlessly killed on the job,” he said, in a press release.
The union’s health and safety chair, Mike Bond, was in contact with the victims’ families last week to explain the charges and answer questions, Bertrand said.
The ministry has up to a year from the time of an incident to produce a report. The Labour Ministry’s report on Stobie has been completed. A ministry spokesperson told Northern Life the report will not be publicly released.
In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act charges, nine charges were laid against Vale and six against one of its supervisors.
Many of the charges relate to the accumulation of water in the mine, which the Steelworkers say was one of the factors that led to the miners’ deaths.
Both the company and the supervisor are due to answer to the charges in a Sudbury courtroom Aug. 14.
Vale said in a press release that it is “in the process” of reviewing the charges. “As this is a very serious matter, we need to consider the charges very carefully before we determine how we will proceed,” Vale said, in the press release.
The company’s own investigation concluded there were a number of factors that contributed to the deaths of Chenier and Fram.
As a result, a plan of action, including more than 30 recommendations, is being implemented to address the contributing factors identified through Vale’s investigation.
Posted by Arron Pickard