Mining death worsens low morale: Vale workers

Vale stopped work at its five mines following the death of a worker at Coleman Mine over the weekend.

Vale employees sent home for 'safety pause' in wake of Sunday's fatal Coleman mine accident

For the second time in the past few months, Sudbury miners are home today for what's known as a "safety pause."

Vale stopped work at its five mines following the death of a worker at Coleman Mine in Levack over the weekend.

Lloyd Harris, who works at Creighton Mine, said he was told to "go home and the supervisor will call you ... I don't know, [I] guess it's time to go home and reflect."

Miner's name released

Police have released the name of the miner killed on the job at Coleman Mine on Sunday.

Stephen Perry, 47, was fatally injured on the 4,200-foot level. He was pronounced dead at the surface.

The Greater Sudbury Police and the Ministry of Labour are investigating.

Harris has been a miner for four decades and said fatal accidents always weigh heavily on people. He said he believes worker morale was already low at Vale — and this fatal accident just makes it worse.

"[It] just adds to … the frustrations that the guys are going through," he said.

Homer Seguin, a former union leader and a champion of worker safety, said the three fatalities in Sudbury in the past year feel like a step backwards.

"It's like going back to the old days when we were having somebody killed every month,’ he recalled.

Xstrata, another local mining company, also had a work stoppage in November 2011, after a series of minor injuries at its two Sudbury mines.

Richard Paquin, CAW Local 598 president

CAW Local 598 president Richard Paquin said miners were upset about that stoppage at first, as they felt the company was blaming them for the accidents. But he added it worked out in the end.

Paquin noted that, if there are morale problems at Vale, the pause may go a long way to keeping miners safe.

"When people's morale is down — for whatever reason — you're not 100 per cent concentrated on safety, because you're always watching over your back," he said.

Vale said how long its mines will sit quiet depends on whether any immediate action needs to be taken following the third fatal accident in Sudbury in the past eight months.