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Vale suspends underground mining operations in Ontario

The shutdown of the underground mining operations in Sudbury will affect roughly 1,500 miners.

Ron Poling/The Canadian Press

Brazilian mining giant Vale SA has suspended all underground mining operations at its nickel-copper mines in Sudbury in Northern Ontario following the death of a miner in an accident on Sunday.

The worker, who has still not been named, was killed while he was underground at Vale's Coleman mine, northwest of Sudbury, said Cory McPhee, a spokesman for the company.

"At this point in time, we don't know what caused the accident," Mr. McPhee said. "This just occurred yesterday and at this point in time, we wouldn't be in a position to speculate on when the mines will reopen."

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"The surface plants, which are separate and distinct from the mining operations are continuing to operate as normal," Mr. McPhee said.

The fatality is the fourth at Vale's operations in Canada in the past seven months. Two workers died in an accident at its Stobie mine in Sudbury in last June, while another miner died in an accident at its Thompson, Manitoba, operations late last year.

Vale bought the bulk of its Canadian operations through its $19.2-billion acquisition of Canadian miner Inco in 2007. It owns copper and nickel operations in the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador, along with a potash development project in Saskatchewan.

Rick Bertand, the president of United Steelworkers Local 6500, which represents Vale's miners in Sudbury, said the union is investigating the accident along with the company and the Canadian Ministry of Labour.

The shutdown of the underground mining operations in Sudbury will affect roughly 1,500 miners, Mr. Bertand said.

Vale spokesman Mr. McPhee said the company's surface production plants will continue to operate using ore from stockpiles and other operations in Canada.

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