Vigilance, preparation and rapid response are the foundation of our safety culture. Life-threatening emergencies at our operations rarely occur, but when a crisis does happen our dedicated and highly trained Mine Rescue Teams stand ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
Each of our mine sites has their own mine rescue team comprised of volunteers ranging from underground and surface workers, medical personnel and health and safety professionals, among others. Team members receive intensive training through regular seminars, presentations, and group sessions, along with rescue training practice scenarios, to sharpen their skills on safe and effective emergency response plans and techniques.
“The mine rescue teams are our first line of defense and have to be able to respond accordingly,” says Shane Williams, Senior Vice President, Capital Projects and Greece & Quebec Operations. “Each team’s training program is specially tailored to the individual operation because the risk associated with every mine site is different.”
Each of our mine sites stage rescue scenarios annually, simulating real-life situations, including ground movement, equipment fires, and evacuating trapped miners, among other emergencies. This gives our rescuers an opportunity to practice and hone their skills in emergency notification, first aid, evacuation, and confined-space rescue. It ensures they’re prepared and equipped to effectively respond to anything that could go wrong at a mine site.
Our rescue teams also participate in various local and international mine rescue competitions to test their emergency response capabilities against the best teams in the world. Our Lamaque Mine Rescue Team, for example, has competed in the annual Quebec Mining Association mine rescue competition.
Eirini Psychari, who we’ve featured on our blog previously, was the first female mine emergency responder at our Kassandra Mines in northern Greece (Olympias, Skouries, Stratoni). She has participated in several rescue simulations covering road accidents, hazardous materials spills, fires and underground incidents. “I had the opportunity to lead the team twice,” she says. “Being the team captain, I realized that I have the ability to be calm and perform under pressure in a challenging environment.” The rescue simulations also reinforced the critical role clear communications plays during an emergency.
Our team at Efemçukuru in Turkey is recognized as an international leader in mine rescue. Following the tragic underground mine fire at the Eynez coal mine in Soma, Turkey in 2014, and later in 2014, the Ermenek coal mine accident, members of our Efemçukuru Mine Rescue Team helped in the rescue efforts. Our Efemçukuru team is regularly called upon to share its expertise with other mining companies in the region, and discuss best practices on emergency response procedures.
Efemçukuru is now leading the organization of the 1st National Mine Rescue Competition with the Turkish Miner’s Association, planned for September 2019 at the Efemçukuru mine.
Our Rescue Team at Kışladağ regularly participates in training drills to ensure they are ready to respond in the event there is an emergency.
A critical aspect of emergency preparedness for us are drills and awareness training on secondary egress from underground mines. “A key part of keeping miners safe as we open up new areas of development underground is having two or more exits points, maintaining those areas and ensuring workers are aware of proper protocol for safely existing a mine in the event of an emergency,” says Shane.
For our underground mines, emergency plans also cover hazards associated with fires, hazardous gases and other situations in which underground ventilation is compromised. All our underground mines are equipped with self-contained rescue chambers providing miners with safe shelter from emergencies such as fires or flooding where they can safely wait for trained personnel to evacuate the area.