A Yukon mining company has been charged with eight counts of breaching safety regulations in connection with the death of a young apprentice mechanic last year.
The charges against Procon Mining and Tunnelling were filed in Yukon territorial court.
Paul Wentzell, 20, died at the Wolverine Mine on Oct. 19, 2009, after an SUV he parked on a steep underground incline rolled downhill and struck him from behind as he was walking toward another piece of equipment.
The incident report prepared by the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board indicates he was knocked over before the vehicle came to rest.
While Wentzell was able to walk and talk, the Alberta resident and former Newfoundlander was flown to hospital to be examined after the 9 a.m. incident.
He arrived at Whitehorse General Hospital at 12:20 p.m., and died of internal injuries 48 minutes later.
The mishap report indicated Wentzell engaged the emergency brake but left the vehicle in neutral.
The report said the brake was unable to hold the weight of the vehicle parked on the hill.
The charges indicate Procone failed to ensure the vehicle's emergency brake was in proper working order, inspect the vehicle within its 250-hour maintenance schedule, identify the vehicle as unsafe for use, ensure Wentzell had received proper training on the SUV and that has a trainee he was properly supervised.
The matter is scheduled to be in court Nov. 16 for the company's first appearance.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, infractions carry a maximum fine of $150,000 for the first offence, and up to a maximum $300,000 for subsequent offences.
Officials from Procon, an internationally recognized underground mining company, are not commenting on the charges.
The Wolverine Mine, owned by the Yukon Zinc Corp., is located southeast of Ross River.
It was scheduled to be in production this past summer, but a second underground fatality, as the result of a cave-in last April, halted work for four months.
Kurt Dieckmann, the safety board's director of health and safety, said Tuesday the second fatality is still under investigation.
Dieckmann declined to discuss the charges, saying the matter is now before the courts.
He said the investigation into the cave-in that killed 25-year-old William Fisher of Kelowna, B.C., should be wrapped up in January.
Yukon Zinc spokesman Shae Dalphond said the company is now looking to be in full production by the end of March.
Currently, the company is doing test runs of the new mill using stockpiled ore.
Yukon Zinc is planning to ship a couple of trucks of concentrate to the B.C. port of Stewart later this month to further test its work plan, Dalphond said.
He said while the company has received the go-ahead to continue work on the upper levels, it's still waiting for the completion of its ground stabilization plan for the lower levels where the cave-in occurred.
Yukon Zinc has about 112 workers on the payroll now, or just under half of what the company will need when it's in full production, Dalphond said. (Whitehorse Star)