Vale Canada reported that all 39 miners, who were stranded underground at its Totten mine in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, safely returned to the surface on September 29. The miners had been underground since reporting for dayshift on September 26 when damage to the shaft rendered it inoperable.

“Getting everyone home safe and healthy was our top priority and we’re glad that our emergency plans and procedures worked to deliver that outcome,” Vale CEO Eduardo Bartolomeo said. “All the employees are safe now and deserve our deep respect for their perseverance and strong will.”

The miners used a secondary egress system to exit the mine with support from Vale Canada’s mine rescue team. The miners climbed a series of steeply inclined and vertical ladders thousands of feet vertically to reach another hoist that brought them to the surface.

“This is tremendous news flowing from very difficult circumstances,” Bartolomeo said. “All of us at Vale were focused on and committed to the safe return of our employees underground. Hearing that every one of them is back on surface and returning home is the best news we could have received.”

A scoop bucket that was being lowered in the shaft broke free and is currently hung up in the shaft. The miners who were underground at the time reported to refuge stations as part of the company’s standard operating procedures. The company was able to maintain communications with the miners the entire time and provided them with food and water.

During the first six months of 2021, Totten mine produced 3,600 tons of finished nickel.

Production is now suspended while Vale Canada assesses the necessary measures to resume production.