British Columbia

Worker dies at underground B.C. gold mine, the second fatality in 3 years

A worker at an underground gold mine in northwestern B.C. has died. It's the second fatality at Brucejack mine in less than three years.

Mining at Brucejack facility temporarily suspended

A worker at the Brucejack mine died on Oct. 22, 2022. It's the second worker fatality at the remote northern mine in the last three years. (Pretivm Resources Inc.)

A worker has died on the job at the Brucejack underground gold mine in a remote part of northwestern B.C., according to a written statement from Newcrest Mining issued Monday, five days after the man's death.

The mine is about 970 kilometres north of Vancouver and 65 kilometres north of Stewart. 

In the statement released by the company's Australian head office, Newcrest calls the workplace fatality an "isolated incident" involving an employee of Brucejack's main contractor, Procon. 

It's the second worker fatality at Brucejack in less than three years.

In August 2020, a worker died three days after he was injured while doing maintenance above ground. 

At the time of the 2020 fatality, the mine was operated by Pretivm Resource, a Vancouver-based gold producer.

After the worker's death last week, Newcrest said it temporarily suspended operations while mine rescue teams and investigators tried to ensure safe access to the incident location for recovery efforts using special equipment. 

In an email to CBC News,  Vlada Cvijetinovic, Newcrest's vice president for legal and investor relations for the Americas, said the recovery effort took four days and was completed Wednesday night.

Cvijetinovic said no other employees were in the area where the miner died, and counselling is being offered to workers. 

"This incident is a stark reminder that there is nothing more important than people's safety, health, and well-being," said Newcrest managing director and CEO Sandeep Biswas. 

Biswas said the loss of a colleague was "devastating news ... The feeling of profound sadness when a life is lost is never forgotten."

Newcrest Mining's website states its corporate objectives include "zero fatalities or life-changing injuries" by 2025.

Worker fatalities at mines in British Columbia are not under the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC but under the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. 

A ministry spokesperson told CBC News all mining and processing operations at Brucejack remain suspended.

The spokesperson said its Mines Investigation Unit, which has specialized expertise, has been probing the death since Oct. 22 and remains on scene at Brucejack.

The Mines Act gives the chief inspector of mines the authority to investigate an incident that causes the loss of life. 

According to Newcrest, Brucejack is a remote and logistically challenging mine in a mountainous area surrounded by glaciers. The underground mine reaches 650 metres in depth at some points. 

It's one of the highest grade operating gold mines in the world.


Betsy Trumpener

Reporter-Editor, CBC News

Betsy Trumpener has won numerous journalism awards, including a national network award for radio documentary and the Adrienne Clarkson Diversity Award. Based in Prince George, B.C., Betsy has reported on everything from hip hop in Tanzania to B.C.'s energy industry and the Paralympics.