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First Nickel guilty on six counts for 2014 deaths

Two Sudbury men were killed in a fall of material at Lockerby Mine
Thomas Boehlert, the former CEO of defunct mining company First Nickel, addresses media shortly after the 2014 deaths of Marc Methe and Norm Bissaillon at First Nickel's Lockerby Mine. (File)

Justice David Stone ruled this afternoon that defunct Sudbury miner First Nickel is guilty on six counts, from the deaths of two Sudbury workers who were killed at Lockerby Mine in 2014.

Marc Methe, 34, and Norm Bissaillon, 49, were killed May 6 that year in a fall of material. Both men worked for Taurus Drilling Services. Family members of the two men were in court today to hear the decision.

The Ministry of Labour initially laid 13 charges in the case. 

Among the charges against First Nickel, which declared bankruptcy, are failing to prevent the accumulation or flow of water, failing to ensure an effective ground support system was in place and failing the requirement that a written report be made of all dangerous work conditions.

First Nickel was found guilty on the following counts:

  • A workplace in an underground mine shall be kept free from accumulation or flow of water that might endanger a worker in the area
  • Fail to develop a quality control program for work in underground mine to ensure the group support systems that are specified in the mine design are properly installed and remain effective while in use
  • Supervisor of a work shift fail to make and sign a record in writing, and end of shift, where potential or actual danger to health and safety of a worker not remedied, describing the dangerous condition
  • Fail to give notice in writing when a fuse, detonator or explosive is found to be defective
  • Fail to develop written program (with joint Health and Safety committee if any) for timely communication between  workers and supervisors respecting ground stability, ground movement, falls of ground, ground monitoring equipment and emergencies (including means and procedures for communicating, kind of information to be communicated and actions to be taken by supervisors and workers when information received)
  • Fail before work has begun in a workplace to examine ground conditions for dangers and hazards and, if required, to make safe

Taurus Drilling was found not guilty of the four charges it faced.

Boehlert was named CFO of New York-based Bunge Ltd., a global agribusiness and food company, in December 2016.

He had been CEO, president and director of First Nickel 2011-2015. Prior to that, Boehlert was CFO for Kinross Gold and for several energy companies including Texas Genco, Direct Energy and Sithe Energies.

The decision was initially supposed to be handed down on Jan. 18, but the judge said he needed more time to render a decision, and so it was delayed until today.