North

Colomac mine demolition suspended

Demolition and cleanup work at the former Colomac gold mine in the Northwest Territories has been suspended while federal officials investigate an accident that happened at the decommissioned mine site late last month.

Demolition and cleanup work at the former Colomac gold mine in the Northwest Territories has been suspended while federal officials investigate an accident that happened at the decommissioned mine site late last month.

A foreman suffered leg injuries when a 2½-centimetre steel cable snapped during efforts to pull down a secondary crusher building at the mine site, located about 220 kilometeres northwest of Yellowknife.

Work at the site has been suspended to ensure that the contractor, Aboriginal Engineering Ltd., has met accepted safety standards for its demolition plans, said Annette Hopkins, the federal Indian and Northern Affairs Department's associate regional director general in Yellowknife.

Hopkins said the demolition will not resume until the Human Resources and Skills Development Department, which is leading the investigation, gives its approval. 

"The initial investigation has been completed. Once Human Resources [and] Skills Development Canada has reviewed that material, they will come back to the three parties with regard to their comments and recommendations," Hopkins told CBC News on Thursday.

"The demolition work will not recommence until we have received HRSDC's recommendations with regard to any changes that might be required to recommence those operations."

In late-February, Aboriginal Engineering and Tlicho Engineering and Environmental Services were awarded the $19-million, two-year contract for the final stage of the mine remediation, including demolition.

Bob Johnston, Aboriginal Engineering's general manager, said the injured foreman is recuperating satisfactorily in southern Canada, following an initial hospital stay in Yellowknife.

The man is expected to return to work eventually, Johnston said.

The Colomac mine produced gold from 1990 until 1997. It was one of three N.W.T. mines that came into the federal government's care when their owner, Royal Oak Mines Inc., went into receivership in 1999. Remediation work has been going on at the Colomac site since 2003, according to the government.