All workers safe after rescue out of mine in Canada

Associated Press

Sudbury, Ontario — The last four miners trapped deep below the surface in the Totten Mine climbed to safety early Wednesday, the company that owns the mine near Sudbury, Ontario, said.

Vale said the 39 workers trapped by an accident on Sunday climbed a series of ladders with the aid of rescue crews.

“This is tremendous news flowing from very difficult circumstances,” Vale CEO Eduardo Bartolomeo said in a statement.

The Totten Mine near Sudbury, Ont.

The last miner reached the surface shortly before 5 a.m. and was taken away in an ambulance as a precautionary measure, said company spokesman Jeff Lewis.

He “walked onto the ambulance and was giving fist bumps to the mine rescue team," Lewis said.

“It was a emotional ending to a very stressful exercise,” said Gord Gilpin, head of mining for Vale’s Ontario operations. “There were a lot of smiles, a few laughs and fist bumping and congratulations going on.”

The workers became trapped on Sunday when a scoop bucket being sent underground detached and blocked the mine shaft while some were as deep as 1,200 meters (nearly 4,000 feet) below the surface, the company said.

“Climbing ladders is not part of their daily routine. ... That is the reason why we had the medical team here. They will be continued to be monitored for the next three or four days and then we'll know the extent of the struggles that they had to get up to the surface,” said Nick Larochelle, president of United Steelworkers Local 6500.

He said they rested at different points of the climb.

The province’s Ministry of Labor, Training and Skills Development said an inspection team will investigate the incident. Bartolomeo, who was on site, said Vale also will investigate “so that the company can learn from it and take steps to ensure it never happens again.”

Vale said the workers stayed in underground “refuge stations” and had access to food, water and medicine before climbing out.

A team of 58 responders from the company’s rescue team and the Ontario Mine Rescue agency helped the workers through their lrek up the ladder system, the company said.

The Totten Mine opened in 2014 and produces copper, nickel and precious metals. It employs about 200 people.