ELKO — Some details about the fatal accident at the Marigold Mine in Valmy became public Nov. 6 when the Mine Safety and Health Administration released its preliminary report.
“A passenger van carrying nine miners was run over by a 340-ton haul truck,” the MSHA accident description states regarding the Oct. 31 accident at the open pit mine. “The driver of the van and another miner in the front passenger seat were fatally injured.”
The two killed were safety superintendent Pete Kuhn and equipment operator Omar Bernal. The accident occurred at 2:10 p.m., and MSHA was notified at 2:51 p.m.
MSHA’s report shows that Kuhn, who was driving the passenger van, had 25 years and 20 weeks of mining experience. He was 60 years old. He died at the time of the accident. An autopsy was performed by the Washoe County Medical Examiner.
Omar Bernal, 39, had 16 weeks of experience, according to the report. He was riding in the front passenger’s seat at the time of the accident, but the report shows that he died Nov. 1 at 12:20 a.m. An autopsy was performed by the Humboldt County Medical Examiner.
MSHA notes that a total of 380 employees work for Marigold Mining Co., owned by SSR Mining Inc., with 308 assigned to the open pit/quarry, 35 to the mill/prep plant and 37 others. The mine also employs a total of 59 contractors.
In a statement released Nov. 1, SSR Mining reported that seven trainees in the van were taken to a hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and released. An MSHA representative said the haul truck driver was hospitalized for treatment of shock.
MSHA is conducting an investigation, and SSR Mining stated it is cooperating fully and will conduct its own operational and safety review.
Mine operations were suspended after the accident, and will resume only once management has conducted a site assessment and briefs employees to ensure a safe restart, according to SSR Mining.
To date in 2017, MSHA reports that there have been 12 metal/nonmetal mining fatalities nationwide. In the coal sector, 14 have died. In 2016, a total of 16 fatalities occurred, including one in Nevada.