After two grueling days trapped underground, most of the 39 workers stuck in a mine in the Canadian city of Sudbury finally climbed to the surface on Tuesday. The grueling rescue operation began after an elevator accident left workers stranded almost 4,000 feet below ground—that’s four times the height of the Eiffel Tower.
On Jan. 25, 2019, a catastrophic mining dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil killed at least 270 people, mostly Vale employees. The collapse unleashed tons of waste into neighboring areas, engulfing nearby offices, farms, and a country house. The accident is considered one of the deadliest mining disasters in history, leading to $7 billion in compensation to victims affected by the tragedy as well as murder charges against 16 officials, including Vale executives, who had disregarded years of safety complaints about the dam, according to an investigation by an independent commission.
That’s not all. Vale has been plagued by a string of smaller, albeit deadly, incidents in the past decade, in both Canada and Brazil. A collapse at a dam operated by the company in 2015 in the Brazilian town of Mariana killed 19 people, including a 5-year-old boy. Two workers in another Vale-owned mine in the same Canadian city of Sudbury were crushed to death in 2011. That was before another Sudbury Vale worker was killed in 2012. The list goes on.
Through it all, Vale has maintained its commitment to the safety of its over 120,000 employees worldwide.
“We have been in frequent communication with [our workers] since the incident. There are no reports of injuries and they have had and continue to have access to water and food... Rescuing our employees safely and in a timely manner is our number one priority,” read a Monday statement from the company addressing the latest Sudbury incident.
The trapped workers’ rescue operation has involved strapping the workers with harnesses and having them climb a ladder to the surface. Speaking to the Toronto Star, Ontario’s chief mine rescue officer said on Tuesday that “Everybody is safe, they’re all in good spirits... Our plan is to get them to the surface in that same form.”
As of midday today, 33 of the 39 miners were back above land. The rest are expected to be rescued by the end of the day. Vale did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast by the time of publication.
“Our thoughts are with the 39 miners trapped underground in #Sudbury as rescue teams work to get them safely above ground,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted on Monday. “We understand this rescue will take some time and are very relieved to hear the miners are currently uninjured.”