September 17, 2013 / 8:23 PM / 6 years ago

Vale hit with record fine for Canadian mine deaths

TORONTO (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA’s Canadian unit has been fined C$1.05 million (US$1.02 million) for a 2011 accident that killed two workers at its mine in Sudbury, Ontario.

The sign for Vale's Copper Cliff mine near Sudbury, Ontario is pictured October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Julie Gordon

The fine is the largest ever imposed by an Ontario court for violations of the province’s workplace safety law, the provincial government said on Tuesday.

Vale confirmed in a statement that it had agreed to plead guilty to three counts of violating the law. On top of the C$1.05 million fine, it will pay a required 25 percent surcharge into a fund that benefits victims of crime.

Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram were working the night shift at Vale’s Stobie Mine on June 8, 2011, when material that had been trapped in an ore pass burst through a gate in the underground mine. They were crushed to death by muck, sand and water.

The province said Vale had not dealt with water issues at the mine, and as water accumulated, it created dangerous “wet muck.”

Vale said it has devoted “significant efforts and resources” to understanding what happened and implementing recommendations made since the accident.

“Nothing we can say or do can ever turn back the clock and bring Jason and Jordan back, but we will continue to honor their memories through our unwavering focus on safety and reaching zero harm in our workplace,” it said.

The accident made headlines across Canada, and prompted an ongoing campaign, led in part by the victims’ families, for a broad inquiry into mining safety in Ontario.

Another worker was killed at Vale’s Coleman mine in Sudbury in January 2012, but investigators did not lay charges in that case.

($1 = $1.03 Canadian)

Editing by Philip Barbara and Eric Walsh

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