British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Sullivan Mine fatalities and the role of air quality in mine-related incidents. Phillip, Mark; Hockley, Daryl; Dawson, Bruce B.


During May 15 – 17, 2006, four fatalities occurred at a partially reclaimed waste rock dump at the closed Teck Cominco Sullivan Mine near Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada. The fatalities occurred at the toe of the dump in a seepage monitoring station that is connected hydraulically, via a pipe and dump toe drain, to the covered acid generating waste rock. Since August 2006, the dump has been heavily instrumented and studied in stages. Results have shown that atmospheric air temperature, not barometric pressure, is the dominant control on air movement between the waste dump and the atmosphere. This air movement, which changes direction seasonally, results in a gas containing elevated carbon dioxide and depressed oxygen exiting the dump. Air quality has been a historic mining issue that is now managed with testing methods and modern ventilation. Advancements aside, air quality remains an issue for current operations and legacy sites. This paper presents recent results of the Sullivan Mine fatalities technical investigations and reviews historic and recent incidents involving poor air quality at mine sites.

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