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Look who’s Miner of the Year… again

December 15, 2021

Matt Stewart, who is with Vale’s underground project in Voisey’s Bay, addresses the audience at the Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) Newfoundland and Labrador Gala Event. Photo: Vale Archive

Simultaneous development of two underground mines – Reid Brook and Eastern Deeps – while continuing with open pit mining. Exceptional safety record including the successful handling of COVID-19 to date. 

It is for these outstanding achievements that the Canadian Institution of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) branch awarded our company the “Miner of the Year” for 2021, marking the second time our Voisey’s Bay Operations has received this coveted award. The first was in 2013. 

“The Miner of the Year award specifically speaks to the quality of our work in Voisey’s Bay and our safety record,” said James Hatley, senior Project manager in Voisey’s Bay, who works with his Project team in conjunction with John O’Shaughnessy and his team from Operations. 

James’ role includes accountability for delivery of the scope, cost, schedule and safety of the project, and for the successful project ramp up with our Operations team. He has worked on our Voisey’s Bay Mine Expansion (VBME) project for just over a year, first starting with SEM-Hatch and then joining Vale about two months ago. “I’ve really enjoyed the project and the people, which made me want to join in a more permanent way.”   

John, general manager for Vale’s Labrador Operations and a 20-plus year Vale employee, joined the Voisey’s Bay team in early 2021 to help the transition from open pit to underground mining, with a sharp focus on risk management. 

Development milestone, check! 

From left: John O’Shaughnessy, general manager Labrador Operations, Patrick Boitumelo, head of North Atlantic Operations and James Hatley, senior project manager VBME project, pictured at our award-winning Voisey’s Bay Mine site. Photo: Vale Archive

In June, the project hit a milestone when the first production ore from Reid Brook was safely delivered while continuing to develop access, levels, and infrastructure at both Reid Brook and Eastern Deeps. Production at Eastern Deeps is on target for late 2022.

John said, “Reaching first ore production at the Reid Brook Mine was a significant milestone on the expansion project, and to do it safely is a testament to the Project team and to Vale for always having safety as the number one priority.”

The development of two underground mines in Voisey’s Bay is an important project, not only for Vale, but for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The development of Reid Brook and Eastern Deeps means having the ability to mine and process ore from underground, which will continue to generate local employment, procurement, capacity building and shared benefit for many years to come.

Safety benchmark, check! 

The team at Voisey’s Bay raises their hands in celebration of reaching first production ore from Reid Brook Mine at Voisey’s Bay. Photo: Vale Archive

The VBME project has set a benchmark in underground mine development safety. Since the project began, we have logged more than 8.5 million hours with zero Lost Time Injuries (LTI). 

As James pointed out, the award also recognizes Vale’s efforts throughout the pandemic. “We take ownership for our own personal safety and those around us, and we see this reflected in how we have managed COVID-19.” 

In March 2020, Vale put the Voisey’s Bay operation and project on care and maintenance to protect employees and the nearby Indigenous communities until more could be known about the spread of the virus. 

James explained: “Being a fly-in/fly-out operation, with higher exposure to travel, we did not want to act as a catalyst to inadvertently introduce the virus into these communities. We remained in care and maintenance for three months and have implemented many preventive measures since then including an on-site COVID-19 testing facility, contact tracing badges for every employee, and all who now travel to Voisey’s Bay must be fully vaccinated, unless they have an approved exemption.” 

John added that earlier this year, the Voisey’s Bay site set a record by winning the national John T. Ryan Award in the Select Mine Category for the seventh consecutive year. The award recognizes the safest mines in Canada. 

“I am very proud to be a part of Vale’s Voisey’s Bay family and for being recognized as Miner of the Year,” said John. “The team remains focused on a safe and successful transition to mining underground.”

James and the Project team, meanwhile, are focusing on continuing with the success we have earned to date. “We’ve made great progress to get through this challenging time and I am quite certain we will hit our remaining milestones on the project safely.” 

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