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Nevada: MSHA Issues 135 Citations to Mining Company

ELKO, NV — The Mine Safety and Health Administration said Veris Gold failed to protect employees from harm at the company’s Jerritt Canyon Mill, after issuing 61 citations and orders to the site.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s MSHA announced the results of the December inspections Wednesday. The inspectors issued 135 citations, 24 orders and one safeguard during special impact inspections conducted at 11 coal mines and two metal and nonmetal mines.

The two highlighted properties in the inspection report were Jerritt Canyon and Hanover Resources LLC’s Caymus Mine in Boone County, W. Va. Caymus Mine produces coal.

“These two examples clearly indicate that some mine operators still don’t get it,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “They simply failed to comply with the Mine Act and find and fix hazards to protect miners from injury, illness and death.”

Veris Gold said “Jerritt Canyon takes all citations and actions from MSHA seriously and its management has been working with them diligently to review all claims. As of January 16, 2014, all citations and actions have been either acknowledged or met.

“It is important to note that the Jerritt Canyon Operations has an exemplary safety record with no fatalities since it began operating in 1982. Safety is our priority, and we will continue to work with MSHA in order to continue to ensure the safety of all employees.

“Recently, Veris Gold USA initiated a Safety Enhancement Program that is the personal responsibility of Graham Dickson, COO. This program will ensure that all employees remain secure at work and return home safely to their families at the end of the day.”

Jerritt Canyon received 49 citations and 12 orders after its inspection that began on Dec. 16. Veris Gold owns the Jerritt Canyon Mill Complex, which is 50 miles north of Elko and has more than 120 employees. The complex property includes three gold mines: Smith, SSX-Steer and Starvation Canyon.

According to the federal agency, “among the hazardous conditions cited during the inspection, MSHA found that an electrician working in the crusher area had been cleaning and performing maintenance on a 480-volt fully-energized switch gear, and there were spent mercury containers found at the bottom of wet mill stairs rather than being stored in a manner that would protect miners from mercury exposure. Nearly four feet of dirt had accumulated on the left side of a conveyor belt, blocking access to the steps and catwalk used to reach the plant and potentially hindering escape during an emergency.

“Inspectors also found: a chemical container improperly labeled; no warning signs for hazardous chemical storage; several unsecured gas cylinders; no provision for safe access in several locations; missing electrical cover plates on energized outlets; an improperly grounded cable; unlabeled breakers that exposed miners to electrical hazards; a broken ladder and insufficient illumination; failure to conduct workplace exams and air receiver tanks equipped with the wrong size pressure relief valves, creating the potential hazard of an exploding vessel.”

On Dec. 19, while MSHA inspectors were still on site, an electrical explosion and subsequent fire injured two employees in the mill.

The employees were injured after an arc flash and minor fire, said Shaun Heinrichs, chief financial officer for Veris Gold.

“One employee was airlifted with burns and another was taken into Elko with smoke inhalation,” Heinrichs told the Free Press in December. “Our thoughts are with our employees and their families. Safety is our utmost priority.”

Tim Woolever, Nevada Division of Forestry chief for the northern region, responded to the scene to handle the fire. He believed at least one of the men injured was an electrician who was working on a 480-volt panel.

MSHA inspected the Caymus Mine on Dec. 11 and issued 13 violations. The inspection party monitored the mine’s communication system to prevent advance notice of their arrival, and they proceeded to inspect the mine’s two working sections and a large portion of the conveyor belt. MSHA issued seven unwarrantable failure orders and six citations. This was the first impact inspection at this mine.

Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted 700 impact inspections and issued 11,562 citations, 1,076 orders and 49 safeguards.

Story Via ElkoDaily.com

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