Convicted: Vale Canada Limited, 200 Bay Street, Royal Bank Plaza, South Tower, Suite 1500, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2K2
Location of Workplace: 60 Mine Road, Town of Garson, City of Greater Sudbury, Ontario P3L 1A1
Description of Offence: Two workers were injured, one of them critically, in a mining incident that involved a rock burst. Vale Canada Limited (the Company) failed as an employer to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by regulation were carried out at a worksite.
Date of Offence: August 21, 2020
Date of Conviction: February 22, 2023
- Following a guilty plea in Provincial Offences Court in Sudbury, Ontario, the Company was fined $175,000 by Justice of the Peace Christine Leclair; Crown Counsel, David McCaskill.
- The court also imposed a 25 per cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
- On the day of the incident two Vale employees were working on the construction of a ramp in the underground section of the mine.
- The workers had been bolting a large steel screen to a section of rock face. They were in the process of unloading additional screening to finish the task when a seismic event occurred in the rock pillar behind the rock face.
- Rock was ejected striking and injuring both workers, one of them critically.
- A Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development investigation (the Ministry) found that the ultimate cause of the rock burst was the existence of an undiscoverable angular plane in the rock that could not have been detected by Vale or its ground control engineers.
- The Ministry’s investigation also noted that more rock was being removed with each round of ramp construction than had been modeled on survey prints. Further, these conditions were not being communicated to Vale’s ground control engineers.
- Although these factors did not contribute to, and could not have prevented the rock burst, the Ministry determined the Company program lacked specifics as to the kind of information that workers should be communicating to their supervisors, and in turn, Vale’s ground control engineers.
- The Mines and Mining Plants Regulation requires that each underground mine “develop a written program to provide for the timely communication of information between workers and supervisors in the mine respecting ground stability, ground movement, falls of ground…”. Among other things, the communication program must set out the kind of information to be communicated.
- Accordingly, the Company failed to ensure that measures and procedures prescribed by section 65 (1) of Ontario Regulation 854/90 (the Mines and Mining Plants Regulation) were carried out in the workplace, contrary to section 25 (1) (c) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.