Kensington reaches safety milestone

Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Kensington gold mine has gone two years without any lost-time injuries to workers, according to its owner.

That's 350,000 safe work-hours, according to a statement from the mine company Coeur Alaska. Coeur is owned by Idaho-based Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp.

Kensington also won an industry safety award last year at the one-year no-lost-time-accidents mark.

The mine has been on hold and its workforce - and consequently, the work-hours - substantially reduced in the last two years. Coeur is waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether its waste-rock storage plan is legal.

Nonetheless, it still has a few workers who spend time underground. Federal mine safety records show an average of 44 workers this year, about half of them office workers at the mine site and half underground or surface-at-underground workers.

The company reported four accidents last year to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

In January, a worker in snowshoes broke through the snow crust and hyperextended his knee; he was put on light duty. In April, a miner pinched his hand while installing an overhead crane. In September, a tractor operator got a pinched finger while loading equipment. And in December, a guard slipped on an icy road and hurt her ankle; she spent time away from work.

The company has been fined $500 total for safety violations in two of the last 15 years. MSHA fines can run well into the thousands.

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