Vale announced early Wednesday that all 39 employees underground at its Totten Mine have now safely returned to surface.
“I’d like to congratulate our rescue team,” Vale's chief executive officer, Eduardo Bartolomeo, said from Sudbury, where he met with employees and rescue personnel.
“Bringing our 39 employees home safe and healthy was our top priority and we’re glad that our emergency plans and procedures worked to deliver that outcome. All the employees are safe now and deserve our deep respect for their perseverance and strong will.”
The employees had been underground since reporting for day shift Sunday when damage to the shaft rendered the normal conveyance system inoperable.
Parts of a scoop tram being lowered into the mine by sling came loose and blocked the elevator shaft, the primary of entering and exiting the mine. Employees exited the mine with support from Vale’s mine rescue team through a secondary egress ladder system.
“This is tremendous news flowing from very difficult circumstances,” said Bartolomeo, in the press release.
“All of us at Vale were focused on and committed to the safe return of our employees underground. Hearing that every one of them is back on surface and returning home is the best news we could have received.”
With employees safely returned to surface, Bartolomeo said an investigation will be launched into what happened, so that the company can learn from it and take steps to ensure it never happens again.