Officials are investigating after two employees were killed while working underground at a Vale mine in Sudbury, Ont.
The miners were almost one kilometre below the surface of the company's Stobie Mine when they were overrun by loose rock material around 10 p.m. Wednesday evening, Vale said.
The workers were killed by a "run of muck," which is an overflow of broken rock, sediment and water.
"The individuals were working in the area of an ore pass when … a run of material, or what we call muck, occurred, which overtook both individuals," said Jon Treen, Vale's general manager of Ontario operations, according to a prepared text of his remarks at a press conference outside Sudbury on Thursday.
An ore pass is an area in the mine where ore is dropped from one level to another.
Mine rescuers were dispatched, but the workers were found with no vital signs and pronounced dead at the scene. It took the rescuers 80 minutes to reach the location and even longer to recover the miners.
The accident is being investigated by Vale officials as well as Sudbury police, the provincial Labour Ministry and the United Steelworkers Local 6500.
"We are all feeling this loss very deeply and will be concentrating our efforts on understanding exactly what occurred so that we can do everything we can to prevent this kind of incident from ever happening again," Mr. Treen said.
Sixty workers on the night shift were underground when the two miners were killed. The others were brought to the surface and accounted for.
The company cancelled Thursday shifts at the facility, which is primarily a nickel mine, and counsellors were brought in.
The workers' names have not been released. One had been working at Vale for 11 years, while the other had six years of service.
The last mining tragedy at Vale's operations in Sudbury was in 2006, when a worker on a scoop tram was crushed by equipment.
With a report from The Canadian Press