ELKO — Officials are investigating what caused 15 contractors to become ill Monday while at Barrick Gold Corp.’s Goldstrike Mine.
The contractors were working on an expansion of the Goldstrike processing circuit when they reported symptoms of nausea and headaches at 8 a.m. Monday, said Goldstrike General Manager Andy Cole.
Trained Goldstrike first responders and emergency medical technicians reached the area within minutes and determined the contractors had been exposed to unknown fumes or gases while working to construct large tanks, Cole said. The tanks are similar to any at a large mill — big steel vats with agitators inside, said Lou Schack, Barrick Gold of North America’s director of communications.
All the people who reported symptoms were able to leave the area and call for help. Of the 15 people, 13 were transported by ambulance to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital for further observation and treatment, Cole said. The remaining two contractors were treated on site.
As of 7 p.m. Monday, all 13 of the contractors who were taken to the hospital were released to full duty, Schack said.
Barrick, Newmont Mining Corp., Carlin and Elko ambulances helped to transport the exposed employees.
“We appreciate the rapid and coordinated response from our neighboring miners and communities,” Schack said.
Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives were notified immediately and have issued an order to prevent access to the incident site, Schack said. All work has ceased in the area and a full investigation is underway.
“This was an unfortunate incident and we will do everything we can to understand how it happened and to prevent any re-occurrence,” Cole said. “We can take some comfort in the quality of our response and the fact that all of those exposed seem to be recovering. The fact that they noticed they were having a problem, got out of the area and reported their symptoms is most reassuring. It reminds us all to maintain our focus on taking care of ourselves and the people around us.”
As of 3:20 p.m., officials were still trying to determine the cause of the fumes.
Story last updated 7:30 p.m. July 15, 2013