Wednesday 7 May 2014

Two workers killed by cave-in at Ontario mine.

Two drill operators have died following a cave-in at the First Nickel operated Lockerby Nickel Mine in Sudbury, Ontario, on Tuesday 6 May 2014. Marc Methe (34) and Norm Bissaillon (49) were employed by contractors Taurus Drilling Services at the mine, and had four and twenty years experience respectively. First Nickel have issued a statement offering their condolences for the deaths and linking the incident to seismic activity in the area immediately before the cave in. All non-essential opperations at the mine have been ceased pending an investigation by the Ministry of Labour. The incident brings the number of mine-related deaths in Sudbury to six since 2011; a review into mine safety in Ontario is currently being carried out by the province's Chief Prevention Officer

The Lockerby Mine at Sudbury, Ontario. Northern Life.

The Lockerby Nickel Mine accesses the Sudbury basin, a 1.849 billion year old impact crater, thought to have been caused by a 10-15 km metal-rich asteroid impacting the Earth. Debris linked to the impact has been found as far away as Minnesota (it is thought that the impact would have caused debris to rain down across the globe, but determining the origin of more distant and diffuse debris becomes more difficult). The original impact crater is believed to have been about 250 km in diameter, though it is now roughly 62 x 30 km, having been deformed into an oval shape by subsequent geological processes. It is the second largest known impact crater on Earth, after the 70 km Vredefort Crater in Free State, South Africa, which is thought to have been 300 km across at the time of its formation 2.023  billion years ago, and larger than the 180 km Cicxulub Crater, which has been linked to the end-Cretaceous extinction.

Geological map of the Sudbury Basin. Wikipedia/Natural Resources Canada.

The crater is still worked for nickel, copper, platinum, palladium, gold, and other metals. The Lockerby Mine produced copper and nickel ore from 1974 until 2008, when operations beyond maintenance were stopped due to low metal prices. Work at the mine recommenced in July 2012, and is predicted to be capable of producing 4 500 000 kg of nickeland 3 000 000 kg of copper annually.

The approximate location of the Lockerby Nickel Mine. Google Maps.

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