Capstone Mining Corporation has scaled back staff at Minto mine following the discovery of a mould infestation inside two bunkhouses.
On Saturday, the company sent home 54 workers, reducing the mine’s occupancy by about one-third. Environmental health specialists were flown to the mine this week to inspect the mould-ridden bunkhouses, which were the subject of workers’ complaints in recent weeks.
“It’s an older camp. The camp wing we shut down was built in 1996,” said Randall Thompson, Minto’s general manager.
Mould is visible in the washrooms and some bedrooms of the 80-man wing. The company knew of the mould for some time, said Thompson, but thought the problem was under control.
Plans were already underway to replace part of the aging wing. The company ordered a new 49-man bunkhouse in October. It should arrive on site in the next three weeks, said Thompson.
The degree of the mould infestation won’t be known until experts complete their inspection. But the bunkhouse isn’t believed to contain toxic black mould, said Kurt Diekmann with the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.
“These are basically the moulds you’re breathing every day,” he said.
The scaled-back workforce shouldn’t affect the mine’s output, said Thompson, as the mine is ahead of its production targets.
And most of the workers sent home weren’t mine operators, said Thompson. Instead, they were construction contractors hired to reinforce the walls of the mining pit, to prevent a repeat of last year’s partial collapse of the pit wall.