PRESS RELEASE – August 29, 2007
Underground Mine Rescue Effort Ends Sadly
GOLCONDA, NV – The search for an underground miner trapped in the Getchell Underground Mine ended sadly today when the body of Curtis Johnson, 36, was recovered following a 32-hour rescue effort. Johnson was operating a rock bolter, a large piece of mining equipment used to install rock bolts for ground support at about 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, when a ground failure partially buried the equipment.
Johnson was employed by Small Mine Development (SMD), a contract mining company that operates the Getchell Underground Mine, one of two mines that make up the Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture in Humboldt County, Nevada.
“On behalf of the entire SMD underground mining family, we feel the deepest sorrow upon the loss of one of our own,” said Ron Guill, Owner of SMD. “CJ was an outstanding person and an excellent underground miner. Words simply can’t express the sense of loss that we at SMD feel today. Our prayers are with his family on this saddest of days.”
He had worked for SMD since 2003 and had seven years of mining experience. Rescuers located him late this morning, near the rock bolter. Johnson is survived by a wife and three children. He was a resident of Winnemucca, Nevada.
“We deeply regret the loss of a friend and coworker,” said Brent Kristof, General Manager of the Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture. “This is a real tragedy for Curtis’ family and for all of us at Turquoise Ridge. Our thoughts are with the family and everyone who knew Curtis.”
Turquoise Ridge and SMD rescue workers responded to the scene early Tuesday. They quickly located the bolter about 2,000 feet from the mine portal but could find no sign of Johnson immediately after the ground failure. All other miners were evacuated and accounted for.
Officials with both the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the Nevada State Mine Inspector’s office are on the scene and directed the rescue effort. Rescue workers used a combination of remote excavation equipment and added ground support as they worked to carefully clear the rubble from the bolter and the surrounding area, with hopes of finding Johnson alive. Great care was taken to ensure that rescue efforts did not further compromise the stability of the rock in the area of the ground failure. No one was injured during the rescue effort.
Officials with MSHA, the State of Nevada, Barrick and SMD will now begin a thorough investigation of this accident.
Barrick and SMD are especially thankful for the support and assistance from Newmont Mining Corporation, Great Basin Gold, MSHA and the State Mine Inspector’s office.
Getchell is one of two underground mines that make up the Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture with Newmont and is operated by SMD, in Humboldt County, Nevada. Barrick holds a 75 percent interest in the Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture and is the operator. The remaining 25 percent interest is held by Newmont Mining Corporation. The Getchell and Turquoise Ridge gold mines are located about 30 miles north of Golconda, Nevada.
Louis A. Schack Vincent Borg
Manager, Senior Vice President,
Communications and Community Affairs Corporate Communications
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