The company that is operating a Yukon zinc-silver mine has pleaded guilty to two workplace safety violations in the 2009 death of a worker from Newfoundland and Labrador.


The deaths of two Procon employees at Yukon Zinc Corp.'s Wolverine mine have stalled full production at the mine, located 200 kilometres south of Ross River, Yukon. ((CBC))

Procon Mining and Tunnelling Ltd. pleaded guilty in Yukon territorial court on Tuesday to two of eight occupational safety charges it faced in connection with the death of Paul Wentzell, 20, at Yukon Zinc Corp.'s Wolverine mine in southeastern Yukon.

Wentzell, who was from Daniel's Harbour, N.L., was working for Procon as an apprentice mechanic when he was killed by an unoccupied vehicle at the mine site on Oct. 19, 2009.

Investigators found that the Toyota Land Cruiser had been parked on an incline, but its emergency brakes failed and the vehicle rolled back and struck him.

In pleading guilty to the charges, Procon admitted that Wentzell had not been properly trained on how to operate the vehicle, and that the vehicle had not been properly inspected.

Six other occupational safety charges that were filed in connection with Wentzell's death have been stayed.

Still face 2nd set of charges

Procon will be sentenced on Sept. 16. There is no word on what penalties the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, which laid the charges, will be seeking.

Procon, along with Yukon Zinc, still face a second set of workplace safety charges in connection with the death of Will Fisher, another Procon employee, at the Wolverine mine.

Fisher, a 25-year-old mechanic, died after part of an underground tunnel wall caved in on him on April 25, 2010.

The deaths of both Wentzell and Fisher have stalled full production at the Wolverine mine, which currently employs about 120 people in two-week shift rotations.

In its latest newsletter, Yukon Zinc said the mine should be in full production before the end of this year.