The Elimination of Rock-fall Fatalities in Ontario Hardrock Mines

Morrison, Douglas
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 5
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2003
Hardrock mines in Ontario generally operate at between 3,000 and 7,500 ft below surface and generally experience significant rockburst activity below 5,000 ft. Since the introduction of bulk mining techniques around 1980, the safety record of Canadian hardrock mines has improved dramatically. However, the process of improvement was not a smooth one and, in the early years, the number of accidents and fatalities actually increased. One incident in 1984 that resulted in 4 fatalities in Ontario initiated a complete re-examination of mining practice and by the mid 1980s many changes had been introduced, driven by new non-prescriptive mining legislation. These changes affected not only the technical discipline of mining engineering but also the management of operational procedures and, together, they resulted in the significant improvements that have continued to this day. The analysis of the rock-fall related fatalities showed 5 major causes (loose, scaling, installing support, collapse and rockburst) and by the mid 1990s fatalities in all of these categories, except rockbursting, had been eliminated and even then, all these rockburst fatalities occurred in one mine which was closed shortly afterward. This paper discusses both the technical and social reasons for the initial failure and the ultimate success in improving the safety of these mines, with implications for mines in other major mining jurisdictions.
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