Business as usual in most areas of Rocanville potash mine
One day after a fire raged underground leaving 20 miners stuck underground for 24 hours, it is business as usual for parts of the potash mine in Rocanville.
Mill operations superintendent, Terry Daniel explains they will take whatever time is necessary to fully investigate what happened. For now, he says that fire scene will remain shut off but other sections of the mine will be operational. The cable reel that sparked the blaze was not integral to keeping the mine running.
Now PotashCorp will start digging deeper into what caused the fire that started in an electrical cable at 1:56am on Tuesday.
Bill Cooper is a spokesperson for PotashCorp, he joined John Gormley Live on Wednesday morning to update the situation. Before the fire investigators can get down in the area that was hit by the fire, they have to make sure the air is clear.
“We’ve got crews underground right now clearing the air and doing air quality tests,” Cooper explained. “So once that’s safe, an internal investigation will begin.”
While they investigate the cause, Daniel says PotashCorp will also review the emergency procedures that were in place.
“What didn’t work what wasn’t working for you, maybe it’s equipment, maybe it’s procedure and they’ll also look at things that work well,” he explained.
When the shift electrician first noticed the fire halfway through the shift just before 2:00 a.m. he followed procedure, immediately calling the emergency number and going to a refuge station with his fellow workers.
The last of the workers were brought up just after 8:00 p.m., more than 24 hours after starting their shift. Cooper and Daniels maintain that there is a good reason why it took so long to bring the miners up to the surface after the fire.
“We’ve got over about 16 kilometres of tunnels and roads underground, so it does take a little bit of time,” Cooper said.
Speaking to media after the last of the workers were brought out, Daniels called the response to the fire a job well done.
“Everybody’s safe, everybody seems in good spirits – a little tired and that’s success for us,” he said.
While it is a success to have emergency procedures work and miners safe and unharmed, occupational health and safety wants to see an end to such fires altogether. Which is why Glennis Bihun and her team are now involved.
"It is important that we take the time to find the cause so that we can learn something from the experience to prevent them in the future," she commented.
In this case Bihun says it is clear the work were well trained for these emergencies. She adds it is good to know PotashCorp places safety as a high priority.
"They take very seriously the need to train their workers and have the refuge stations created," Bihun said.
At this stage, Bihun won't put a timeline on the OHS part of the investigation.
Edited by CJME’s Adriana Christianson with files from Patrick Book
Operations manager Terry Daniel stands with two workers after they were brought out of the mine on Tuesday night.