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Gold Bar Project

Haul trucks stand at the ready on McEwen Mining Inc.’s Gold Bar Project property near Eureka in this December 2017 photo.

ELKO – Nevada’s first report of a mining fatality in 2019 has been determined instead to be a death by natural causes.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration on June 26 rescinded its earlier report on the May 13 incident.

“The Acting Chair of MSHA’s Chargeability Review Committee reviewed the death certificate, autopsy report, and MSHA’s accident investigation findings and determined that the miner died from natural causes,” stated MSHA. “The fatality is not chargeable to the mining industry.”

The Eureka County Sheriff’s Office was the first to report the death, stating that emergency medical services were called to McEwen Mining’s Gold Bar Mine at about 9:46 a.m. after the driver, Dean V. Pilcher of Colorado, was found dead in a haul truck. McEwen emergency response team workers were already on scene and performing lifesaving measures when they arrived.

“After extensive efforts, lifesaving measures were unsuccessful,” the sheriff’s office reported.

The office did not say what caused his death.

On the following day, McEwen reported that Pilcher’s death was the result of an accident.

“The accident involved a haul truck that overturned while operating at the site, and the individual who was fatally injured was its driver,” the company stated. “There were no other injuries associated with the accident.”

Rob McEwen, chairman and chief owner of the company, said, “We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life on our mine site. Our immediate focus is to support his family, friends and colleagues at this most difficult time. Safety for everyone on our mine sites is our highest priority, an investigation is underway to determine how this happened.”

MSHA’s preliminary report described the truck’s path but did not explain why it crashed.

The agency reported that the Caterpillar 777D haul truck was ascending the Cabin Pit Haul Road when the truck slowed and stopped, then rolled backwards. The truck traveled more than 300 feet and ran up a hill, causing it to roll over once. The truck came to rest upright on its tires.

Pilcher was an employee of N.A. Degerstrom, which is the contracted mining company for McEwen Mining.

Gold Bar is located about 30 miles northwest of the city of Eureka, on the Cortez Trend.

McEwen Mining began construction in November 2017. The first gold ingot was poured at the mine on Feb. 16, 2019.

In 2018, there were two mining fatalities in Nevada, both in northeastern Nevada.

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