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Province postpones mining-related inquiries

Proceedings will be rescheduled for later dates

Answers about what happened during Richard Pigeau’s 2015 death at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South Mine in Sudbury will have to wait until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

An inquest had been slated to take place starting April 20 at the Sudbury Courthouse, but it is now among two dozen inquiries that have been postponed until a future date.

The province made the announcement in a brief March 26 statement.

“Dr. David Cameron, regional supervising coroner for inquests, announced today that the following inquests will be postponed in alignment with Ontario's strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19,” the statement read.

“Notices of the rescheduled dates and locations will be published when determined.”

Pigeau, 54, died on Oct. 20, 2015, from injuries sustained while working at Glencore’s Nickel Rim South Mine in Sudbury, after he was thrown from, and run over by, an underground vehicle.

In 2017, Glencore was fined $200,000 for the incident after pleading guilty to failing as an employer to provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the safety of the worker, contrary to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, specifically to failing to provide sufficient information regarding the use of the seatbelt while operating a load haul dump (LHD) vehicle.

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The directive also impacts the inquiry into Ronald Charles Lepage’s death.

Lepage, 59 died in hospital on April 6, 2017, from injuries sustained while operating a dumptruck at Vale’s Copper Cliff Refinery in Sudbury.

Lepage worked for Cecchetto and Sons, a contractor for Vale, when he was killed while working in the central tailings area for the Clean AER project.

“We are very saddened by this tragic event,” said Stuart Harshaw, who was at the time vice-president of Vale’s Ontario Operations.

“Vale has a long history of working with this local, family-run business and we can appreciate just how difficult this incident has been for the individual’s family, coworkers and friends."

A date had not yet been announced for the inquest into Lepage's death.

Under provincial regulations, an inquest is mandatory when a death occurs on the job at a construction site, mine, pit, or quarry

Inquests examine the circumstances surrounding a victim’s death, and the  jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing further deaths.