Northwest B.C.’s Red Chris Mine came away a winner from the 65th annual BC Provincial Mine Rescue Competition held in Williams Lake at the Stampede Grounds June 16 and 17 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Red Chris mine rescue team took top honours in the overall underground mine rescue category as well as some individual awards.
Pamela Mikolayczyk, who hails from Hazelton, is the mother-in-law of Jordon Muldoe, who she said is a long-time coach and member of the Red Chris team. She said she is very proud of her son-in-law and the whole team at Red Chris.
“Given their achievement, I think our community should have an increased level of confidence in the mine rescue team as they are the first responders to any crisis in Red Chris Mine,” she said. “It certainly gives me a heightened sense of assurance about the safety of my family/friends and our community who are employed at Red Chris.”
The two-day event showcased the skills of mine rescue teams from across the province and was open to the public to watch. B.C. has 17 sizeable operating mines and two operating smelters, with the province requiring all mines to have emergency response capabilities under the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia.
“I know all the teams (were) thrilled to be coming to Williams Lake,” said Michael Goering, president and CEO of the Mining Association of British Columbia. He said the event always brings a strong spirit of competition which in the end continues to add to safety within the industry.
Premier David Eby stopped in to tour the event June 17 and even had a chance to try extinguishing a fire while he was there.
Organizers had Eby suit up in coveralls and practice using a fire extinguisher on a propane-fuelled fire. After a briefing on the equipment and the scenario, he was made to test for wind direction, then move into the best position. He then put out the fire in front of a crowd of onlookers.
Eby then toured the different stations at the event, checking out rope rescue, vehicle extraction, and a mock three-story fire entrapment apparatus.
The premier spent over an hour at the event before heading off to his next meeting. Competition continued on for mine rescuers, with plenty of spectators and decent weather for most of the event.
“The mine rescue competition is unique to the mining industry,” said Goehring.
“It was exciting to watch teams of highly skilled and well-trained professional rescue teams compete head-to-head in skills and procedures they hope they never have to use. There was ultimately one overall champion for each category, but the talent and dedication of each team truly makes them all winners.”
Since the 1950s, mining companies have brought their mine rescue teams to participate in a provincial competition, putting their skills to the test.
“The competition is just a great opportunity to test our teams and demonstrate their leadership,” said Cyndi van Alphen, emergency response coordinator for Gibraltar Mine and coach of the Gibraltar team. Van Alphen said she made it to the regionals twice when she was competing in Alberta.
The top teams were:
Overall Three Person First Aid Competition Winner: Copper Mountain Mine
Overall Surface Mine Rescue Winner: Highland Valley Copper Mine
Overall Underground Mine Rescue Winner: Red Chris Mine
Chief Inspector’s Award for Exemplary Fire and Mine Rescue Service: Myra Falls Mine
Best First Aid for Surface: Gibraltar Mine
Best Surface Team Written: Fording River
Best Extraction for Surface Team: Mt. Milligan Mine
Best Surface Rope Task: Highland Valley Copper
Best Fire: Highland Valley Copper