Mining company pleads guilty

Procon Mining and Tunnelling Ltd. has pleaded guilty to two health and safety regulation charges on Tuesday, after a 20-year-old died at the Wolverine Mine almost two years ago.

Procon Mining and Tunnelling Ltd. has pleaded guilty to two health and safety regulation charges on Tuesday, after a 20-year-old died at the Wolverine Mine almost two years ago.

Paul Wentzell, originally from Newfoundland, was an apprentice mechanic at the mine, 200 kilometres south of Ross River. On October 19, 2009, the parking brake of one of the company’s Toyota Land Cruisers failed while it was parked on a steep ramp. Wentzell was crushed between it and another vehicle.

While he could walk and talk after the incident, Wentzell died from internal injuries shortly after arriving at hospital.

The operating company initially faced a total of eight charges focused on its equipment maintenance and repair, and employee training and supervision.

After the company pleaded guilty of failing to ensure the equipment was maintained in a safe operating condition and that its worker had demonstrated competence in operating equipment, the six other charges were stayed. That means it can still be brought back to court within a year, but no further action will occur at this time.

Procon – along with mine owner Yukon Zinc – is also facing charges in another death at the zinc, silver, copper and lead mine.

Will Fisher, a 25-year-old mechanic, died after an underground tunnel caved in on April 25, 2010.

No pleas have been heard in this case yet.

A sentencing hearing for the charges in Wentzell’s case will be held in September.

The penalty for violating the Occupational Health and Safety Act is a fine of up to $150,000 for the first offence and up to $300,000 for any subsequent offences.