Officials with First Nickel in Sudbury have released the names of two contract workers killed on the job at its Lockerby Mine early Tuesday morning.
Marc Methe, 34, and Norm Bissaillon, 49, worked for Taurus Drilling Services.
A statement from the company described Bissaillon as a dedicated and experienced underground miner with over 20 years of experience. Methe had been with Taurus for about four years and is described as being committed and enthusiastic about the trade.
The company said the accident happened at its underground operations.
In a release, the company described the cause of the accident as a fall of material, preceded by seismic activity.
Thomas M. Boehlert, president and CEO of First Nickel, expressed his condolences in the release.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident that resulted in the deaths of two men and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their families, friends and colleagues. Safety is the top priority for the company and we will ensure this accident is fully investigated.”
The company said it will work with government authorities to investigate the incident. It is also working closely with Taurus Drilling to ensure the miners’ families receive counselling support.
First Nickel said all other workers had reported in safely.
The two workers killed were contractors and not unionized, the company added.
All underground activities, except for emergency requirements, have been suspended at the mine.
'This is unacceptable:' Ministry of Labour officer
Mine Mill 598 Unifor president Anne Marie MacInnis said the union will be part of a joint investigation despite the fact the workers were not members.
The chief prevention officer for the Ministry of Labour, George Gritziotis said in a statement that he is shocked and saddened.
"My thoughts are also with the people of Sudbury. These tragedies are devastating to the community. This is unacceptable. We must find better ways of protecting people who go into mines every day to earn a living. No job is worth a life. All of us have the responsibility to work together to do what we can to stop these senseless tragedies from happening again."
Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk said: “I offer my condolences to the families, friends and co-workers of the individuals. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."
Provincial politicians react
Tributes and condolences from Queen's Park are also coming in.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the accident "is a grim reminder of the dangers miners face each and every day on the job. My heart goes out to everyone touched by this terrible tragedy. The mining community has deep roots in the Sudbury area. I know the people of Sudbury will come together to support the families, friends and co-workers of the two miners killed on the job."
Premier Kathleen Wynne also commented as she was campaigning for next month's provincial election.
"I just want to say that ... my thoughts are with the family, and we don't have any details, but I'm very, very concerned."
These deaths come a month to the day of another mining industry fatality in Sudbury.
Paul Rochette, 36, died in an incident at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter on April 6. His colleague suffered serious injuries.
Mining safety reviews have been underway across the province since January, sparked by the deaths of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier, who were killed in a slide of muck at Sudbury's Stobie mine in June 2011.