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An employee of Vale Inco died early Tuesday in this nickel mine in Thompson, Man. ((CBC))

Officials are trying to determine how a 53-year-old man died Tuesday while working in a northern Manitoba mine.

The employee of the Vale Inco nickel mine in Thompson failed to report at a regular check-in time in the underground work area known as T1. His body was discovered after other workers went looking for him, according to RCMP.

Vale Inco, Thompson RCMP, and Workplace Health and Safety are investigating the incident, which happened around 6 a.m. about 1,220 metres underground.

Police said the man is a resident of Thompson, 770 kilometres north of Winnipeg, but did not release his name.

'When you have a tragedy of this sort, that not only affects the miners in the mine, but it also affects the families and the whole community.' —Les Ellsworth, United Steelworkers union

Vale Inco has offered counselling to staff, family and friends of the man.

Les Ellsworth, president of United Steelworkers Local 6166 in Thompson, said the incident has caused a terrible time for the whole community.

"Miners are very close people. They work very close," he said. "And when you have a tragedy of this sort, that not only affects the miners in the mine, but it also affects the families and the whole community as one."

The T1 area of the mine remains closed for the time being, but all other sections are operating as usual.

Foul play is not suspected, RCMP say.

Ellsworth told CBC this is the first workplace fatality in the northern city in more than 10 years.

"A little over a year ago we had a fatality at one of the other mines but. in fact, that was a suicide. Prior to that, there were two fatalities in 1997," he said. "So the last time that we had a workplace fatality, in a pure sense, was back in 1997."