Mine Managers Blamed for Death of Miner in June


On June 2, 36-year-old Nicholas Rounds was working in the personnel hoist compartment of the Jewell Shaft at the Sunshine Mine near Kellogg. After loading some material into a work deck, the hoist operator was given the OK to move the hoist to the surface.

According to the incident report, the operator heard Rounds make a noise, so he immediately stopped the conveyance. The other mine workers could not see Rounds and yelled for him. Rounds hadn't disconnected from his fall-protection lanyard and when the load moved, and he was pulled into the space between the work deck and the shaft wall—a clearance of five inches—killing him.

The Central Mine Rescue team was called to recover Rounds at 3:15 p.m., but it took until 8:30 p.m. to remove the body. The cause of death listed in the incident report was "multiple body fractures and internal injuries."

Rounds had 18 years of mining experience. The Spokesman Review reported a few days after the incident that he was engaged to be married later in the summer.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reported today that Sunshine Mine management is to blame for Round's death, according to federal mine safety regulators.

"The accident occurred due to management's failure to identify possible hazards and establish safe work procedures associated with performing shaft maintenance work, specifically where miners were to safely tie off their lanyards," according to the report from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, released Nov. 20.

A spokesperson for the mine told the Press that steps have been taken to ensure the safety of all miners.

The mine is currently being rehabilitated, and not producing. It produced more than 365 million total ounces of silver from 1904 to 2008.