Yukon contractor seeks settlement in mine death
Lawyers for a mining contracting company at Yukon Zinc Corp.'s Wolverine mine are hoping to settle a court case over a workplace accident that killed a Newfoundland and Labrador man in 2009.
Procon Mining and Tunnelling Ltd. is charged with eight counts of breaching Yukon occupational health and safety regulations in the death of Paul Wentzell, 20, at the southeastern Yukon zinc-silver mine, which has yet to begin production.
Wentzell, who was from Daniel's Harbour on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, was working for Procon as an apprentice mechanic when he was struck and killed by an unoccupied vehicle at the mine site on Oct. 19, 2009.
The Toyota Land Cruiser was parked on an incline, but its emergency brake failed and the vehicle rolled back.
The Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board accused Procon of not providing adequate training and supervision. The company should have known the Land Cruiser was not safe, the board added.
Appearing in Yukon territorial court on Tuesday, government lawyers said they are frustrated by the slow progress the case has made since the compensation board laid the charges in October.
The lawyers said there is still no agreement on which of the eight charges against Procon should proceed.
Procon lawyers told the court they need at least another month to negotiate some kind of settlement, since they and the government want to avoid a long and costly trial.
Both sides agreed to return to court on April 12.
Wentzell's death, as well another accident that killed a second Procon worker in April, has set back Yukon Zinc's production plans for the Wolverine mine by months, if not years.
Will Fisher, a 25-year-old mechanic from British Columbia, died on April 25, 2010, after part of an underground tunnel wall collapsed onto him. Yukon justice officials are still considering charges related to Fisher's death.
There has been no word from Yukon Zinc on when it plans to start commercial production at the mine, which is located 200 kilometres south of Ross River and about 400 kilometres northeast of Whitehorse.