Feds Cite Barrick Over Mine Fatality

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The federal government has issued two citations to Barrick Goldstrike Mines Inc. over a fatality last year at a northern Nevada mine.

The citations stemmed from the Nov. 19 death of Ernie Spalding, 38, who was killed when a roaster belched hot ashes on him and he fell.

The roaster heats ore to 1,000 degrees to burn off sulfides and impurities. The hot ore, called calcine, then flows to tanks through two discharge pipes.

Spalding was killed after he entered a work area where a gasket was being replaced in a discharge pipe and the dust was unexpectedly released.

The plant was evacuated after the accident and Spalding, who was unaccounted for, was found badly burned when crews went back inside.

"Failure to provide means of controlling the hot calcine material when the `B' discharge line was disconnected ... constitutes more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard," a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration report found.

One citation issued by the MSHA alleged a lack of a mechanical device or other means to prevent injuries created by sliding materials.

The other citation issued concerned a lack of protective clothing and equipment for workers in an area with hot calcine material.

Barrick corrected both conditions Jan. 13, according to the MSHA report, obtained by the Elko Daily Free Press.

But the company still faces civil penalties ranging from $60 to $60,000 per violation, MSHA spokesman Rodney Brown said.

"The issuance of the citation is to let them know you have a bad condition that needs correcting," Brown said. "You're also told you should correct this condition in a certain amount of time.

"One of the factors in deciding the amount of the penalty is whether they operate in good faith in correcting the bad condition," he added.

The fines are expected to be leveled later this year.

In last year's only other mining fatality in Nevada, James Tanner, 40, was killed in a fall from a roof Aug. 9 at the Eagle-Picher plant near Lovelock.