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Mine Accident

Two injured at Jerritt Canyon

Veris Gold Jerritt Canyon Mine Crusher Room

Mill operators separate rocks in the primary crusher at Jerritt Canyon Mine in this file photo from May. An arc flash and subsequent fire occurred in the main crusher room Thursday, according to Nevada Division of Forestry personnel.

ELKO — An electrical explosion and subsequent fire injured two employees Thursday morning at Jerritt Canyon Mill Complex.

“Two employees were injured today on site after an arc flash and minor fire,” said  Shaun Heinrichs, chief financial officer for Veris Gold. “One employee was airlifted with burns and another was taken into Elko with smoke inhalation. Our thoughts are with our employees and their families. Safety is our utmost priority.”

The company did not identify the injured workers.

 Veris Gold owns the Jerritt Canyon Mill Complex, which is 50 miles north of Elko. The complex property includes three gold mines: Smith, SSX-Steer and Starvation Canyon.

Veris Gold did not provide details of the accident.

“An arc flash is an undesired electric discharge that travels through the air between conductors or from a conductor to a ground,” according to WhatIs.com. “The resulting explosion can cause fires and serious harm to equipment and people.”

Mine employees reported an electrical explosion at 9:40 a.m. Thursday to Elko Central Dispatch. The Nevada Division of Forestry responded to the mine site.

Authorities are still investigating what caused the electrical explosion, said Tim Woolever, NDF chief for the northern region.

He said two people were working on the main power supply to the main crusher when the accident occurred.

“They said they were repairing the terminals and something arced,” Woolever said.

He believed at least one of the men injured was an electrician and they were working on a 480-volt panel.

“We were told Summit Air took one of them and Elko Ambulance took the other,” Woolever said. “We heard — this is second-hand mind you — that electricity went through one and he had second- and third-degree burns.”

A Veris Gold representative said “the employees were not too badly injured.”

“We do not have the complete information regarding the degree of the burn victim, but it was only his hands and the side of his face that was not covered by the full-face respirator.”

As to where the accident occurred, the company said it would “not be giving out that detail.”

Even though the electricity to the room had been shut off, NDF still had to extinguish the fire in the room, Woolever said. The arc flash had caused a fire that caught items in the room on fire.

“After we were able to gain entry, we put the fire out at the area of origin,” Woolever said. “The damage to the building was to the electrical components.”

The Mine Safety and Health Administration did not need to be contacted about the incident since MSHA staff were already on site when the accident happened. They were there for another matter, according to a Veris Gold representative.

The representative also was not aware of any shutdowns at the site because of the incident.

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Free Press Staff Writer Elaine Bassier contributed to this article.

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