Regulators found Nevada Gold Mines, a joint venture between Barrick Gold (NYSE: GOLD) (TSX: ABX) and Newmont Gold (NYSE: NEM) (TSX: NGT), negligent in violating safety standards following a months-long investigation into a worker’s death at its Cortez District underground operation in 2022.
The United States Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a report last week citing the company for leaving hazards uncorrected and not following its own set safety rules regarding the placement of berms at the edge of open holes, or stopes.
“According to interviews with mine management, the mine operator decided not to follow their own standard operating procedures of installing physical berms and warning signs in access points to open stopes to prevent mobile equipment from over-traveling the stope edge about two years prior to the accident,” regulators for the agency wrote in the final investigative report.
Nevada Gold Mines is the largest mining company in the state. Originally constructed as a JV between Barrick and Newmont in 2019, it operates large-scale gold mines across the I-80 corridor.
The findings resemble those of an earlier conclusion reached by state regulators who investigated the death of Marissa Hill, a miner with a decade of experience. Hill drove a lube truck over the edge of a stope without a berm, falling 60 feet on Feb. 14, 2022. Two miners noticed barrier chains had been breached three hours later and started looking for her, according to the report.
The report also covers four enforcement actions taken by regulators, including the initial stop work order after the fatality. The other three actions include the violation of mine health and safety rules. Additionally, the investigation found management negligent in installing berms or protective barriers, and had knowingly failed for two months.
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Nevada Gold Mines has had other workplace fatalities
Also, the report indicated the lube truck’s backup camera hadn’t been adequately maintained for years. Lube trucks provide services like refueling and maintenance.
Nevada Gold Mines took steps afterwards to correct the violations in the following months, including installing berms at all stopes, increasing training and fixing backup cameras on two additional lube trucks.
Prior to Hill’s death in 2022, multiple reports from employees told The Nevada Independent and High Country News that the joint venture cared more pushing ore through than workplace safety, and it drove away experienced workers.
In January, Nevada Gold Mines reported another fatality at its Goldstrike mine. In this case, two miners were using hand tools to remove a waterline. The waterline broke killing one and injuring another.
The year before the accident, the Cortez Hills Underground had a lost time incident rate, which measures safety at mine sites, of 0.29, which is below the national average of 1.31.
“We remain focused on ensuring the personal safety of everybody in our workplace, as we work together on our Journey to Zero Harm,” according to a statement from Nevada Gold Mines.
Barrick Gold shares are down $0.75 and trading at $23.92 and Newmont’s shares are also down $1.23 and trading at $63.84.
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Calibre Mining (TSX: CXB) (OTCQX: CXBMF) is another gold company with operations in Nevada, Washington and Nicaragua.
They recently the completion of its Year-Two Statement of Progress for conforming to the World Gold Council’s (WGC’s) Responsible Gold Mining Principles (RGMP). The company joined the WGC in 2020 and adheres to its fundamentals.
Calibre shares are down two cents and trading at $1.05 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
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