Two dead, four admitted to hospital after Colorado gold mine accident

A foreman and a miner are reported dead after a Sunday morning accident at the Star Mine Operations’ Revenue Mine in Ouray County, Colo.

Initially the fatal accident was reported as an explosion killing two and injuring 20, but MSHA said it was an accident involving explosives, not an explosion, that killed Nick Cappano and Rick Williams who died from CO poisoning. MSHA said last night that two miners remained hospitalized, but then this morning it is reported that four were admitted overnight. Injuries were due to miners being overcome by gasses, according to the federal agency.

The mine began operating two years ago, and is listed as an “intermittent” underground gold mine on MSHA’s DRS. A local newspaper lists the mine as a silver mine.

The mine has received four hazard complaints from miners since March of this year. The last time MSHA was in the mine was on Oct. 22 to investigate a hazard complaint. No violations were found.

The mine has reported four accidents this year, but none serious. However, based on hours worked, the accident rate is 4.21 compared to the national average of 1.95 giving the mine an accident rate that is 115% above the national average. It’s “violations-per-inspection-day” rate is 1.47, compared to the national average of .47 for underground metal/nonmetal mines reflecting 25 violations since August of 2012.

The mine is controlled by Rory and James Williams. In an August 2013 Watch news article Rory Williams was listed as the “project manager.”

According to the Watch article, the company is “rehabilitating the historic underground workings that probe some two miles into the mountainside, and laying rail into the very back of the mine.”

Listed as the underground manager by Watch was Jack Clark, and the surface manager as JL (“Little John”) Trujillo.

MSHA reports 91 employees at the mine.

Update from MSHA:
Preliminary information indicated that a miner entered an area of the mine where an explosive had been previously detonated. When he did not emerge, the shift foreman went in to search for him. Eventually they were both found by other miners working in the area, and those miners immediately evacuated the mine. Mine rescue teams entered the mine and found the two miners. During the recovery operation, they detected fatal levels of carbon monoxide. The teams brought the victims to the surface at 2 p.m. (MST). Twenty miners were taken to the hospital, and three were kept overnight. All 20 have since been released. The Mine Safety and Health Administration will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident. It has required the mine operator to submit a plan for the rescue teams to re-enter the mine in order to determine that it is properly ventilated and all harmful gases have been removed, so that the investigation can begin.