Quebec miners rescued from underground gold mine

After being trapped for nearly 18 hours, nine miners have been rescued and are back on the surface following a collapse at a gold mine in the Abitibi region of Quebec.

2nd collapse at mine in 4 months, likely caused by seismic activity

Rescue teams used remote-controlled machinery to reach nine miners who were trapped nearly one kilometre underground at the Westwood Mine in Preissac, Que. (Radio-Canada)

After being trapped for nearly 18 hours, nine miners have been rescued and are back on the surface following a collapse at a gold mine in the Abitibi region of Quebec.

The miners became trapped around 3:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday in the Westwood Mine in Preissac, after a collapse that appears to have been caused by seismic activity.

Sylvain Lehoux, the mine's general manager, said everyone had made it safely to the surface by 9:30 p.m.

Union spokesman Marc Thibodeau said the miners were in "good spirits" — but also hungry, as they had no food while underground.

3rd seismic event at mine

The mine's owners, IAMGOLD Corp., recorded two seismic events, with magnitudes of 1.2 and 1.7 on Monday. The Westwood mine is located over the Cadillac fault.

The mine has experienced similar incidents since it started commercial production in July 2014, including two within the past four months.

On Jan. 21, part of the mine collapsed, also due to seismic activity, trapping four workers. Though no one was injured, the Syndicat des Métallos union says the miners were left with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It's not something you go through 25 times as a miner. It happens only once, and when you're trapped underground and there's no emergency exit, there's nowhere to turn to," Thibodeau said.

A previous seismic event at the mine happened between shifts, when no one was underground.

The mine's general manager said the company is taking proper precautions. 

"Yes, we have to be safe, we put lots of seismic surveillance and technology, we put different things to prevent [problems] but in the end it is a mine," said Lehoux.

The union said it will be asking its occupational safety and health committee to investigate and determine if the site is safe for workers.

"If we can't operate safely they'll have to close down the site, because there's no amount of money a company can pay to justify risking a worker's life," said Thibodeau.

With files from The Canadian Press


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