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Prospector fatally injured in ATV accident

(Canadian OH&S News)


(Canadian OH&S News)

A prospector working for a mining company was fatally injured on the job on Aug. 31 after his all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tumbled over an embankment near Marathon, Ontario.

James Buckner, 63, a contract worker for Stillwater Canada Inc., was killed after the ATV he was driving went over a steep embankment that afternoon. Buckner had been involved in the company’s Marathon PGM-Cu Project, a mining operation in the northwestern Ontario district of Thunder Bay.

The provincial Ministry of Labour is investigating the accident, as are the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the company itself, according to a Stillwater press statement from Sept. 3.

“Buckner was driving a four-wheel ATV, when it appears he missed a turn and went over the edge of an embankment,” said Matt Blajer, a media spokesman for the Ministry of Labour. “He died as a result of his injuries.” The ministry was planning to travel to the site of the crash to investigate further, Blajer added.

Const. Dave Shaw of the OPP’s Marathon detachment conducted a reconstruction of the collision at the site.

“The trail basically ended at a bush road, or the main road,” Const. Shaw said, “and as he came down that trail, he failed to make the right turn for an unknown reason and went down an embankment on the other side of the road. The ATV came to rest up against a tree, and there are several trees that he may have struck on his downward assent.”

Const. Shaw confirmed that Buckner, who lived in Ear Falls, hadn’t been wearing a helmet while driving. Speed was not believed to be a factor in the accident, he added.

“There’s not much to report at this point in time,” he admitted. “It’s unknown whether protective equipment would have aided him in any manner. It’s one of those things where you just don’t know if it would have helped him or not.” The cause of death was still to be determined, he went on to say, and a postmortem examination has been planned.

Stillwater Canada expressed condolences to Buckner’s family in its press release. “The company is committed to the safety of its employees and contractors and is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation,” it read.

Stillwater Canada Inc. is a subsidiary of Stillwater Mining Company, a Montana-based corporation. Stillwater is the United States’ sole producer of palladium and platinum, as well as the world’s largest primary producer of platinum-group metals outside of South Africa and Russia, said information from its website. It established its Canadian subsidiary in 2010 to conduct the Marathon operation.