Meadowbank mine workers warned of asbestos in ore

Agnico-Eagle has found there is asbestos in the ore being mined at its gold mine near Baker Lake, Nunavut.

Mineral is a health hazard when dust inhaled

Gold miners work in the open pit mine at Agnico-Eagle's Meadowbank Mine facility in 2011. The mine is situated north of the hamlet of Baker Lake. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Workers at the Meadowbank gold mine in Nunavut are being warned about asbestos in the ore being mined.

Asbestos is a mineral that when inhaled has been linked to respiratory diseases and lung cancer.

"We've now confirmed that we do have some asbestos in the ore that we mine," said Dale Coffin, corporate director of communications with Agnico-Eagle.

"We haven't identified how much yet. We're doing test analysis of the rock to determine how much may be there but we have put in place corrective measures to protect our employees and manage the dust."

The Meadowbank gold mine is located 75 kilometres north of Baker Lake. About 750 permanent employees work there along with almost 300 contractor employees.

Coffin said because the asbestos is coming from the mined rock, it is impossible to get rid of it completely.   He said employees have been trained to avoid direct contact with the dust for their own safety.