Skip to content

B.C.'s mine rescue teams face realistic challenges at Britannia Mine event

Teams showcase top skills in annual provincial competition in Britannia Beach. 

If an accident happens at a remote mine in B.C., miners can't depend on an ambulance or the fire department to arrive in minutes.

Thus, mine operations throughout the province each have their own skilled rescue professionals who serve as each mine’s fire department, paramedics and high-angle rescue teams.

This weekend, those teams put their knowledge to the test at the 66th annual Provincial Mine Rescue and First Aid Competition, held at Britannia Mine.

Teams from across the province competed in surface and underground mine rescues in the two-day event organized by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and the Mining Association of BC.

"The mine rescue competition is an exciting event for competitors and spectators. Teams will compete in challenges, testing their skills, including firefighting, first aid, and rope rescue—all under simulated conditions. And it also shows how B.C. mining companies are working to safeguard the health and well-being not only of the mine workers but also of the local communities where mines operate," said Jayne Czarnocki, director of communications for the Mining Association of British Columbia, who was on hand for the event.

"Mining has sustained generations of British Columbians and is the cornerstone of community development. It supports people and prosperity across our province. And the annual mine rescue competition ensures that B.C. remains a world leader in mine health and safety."

Hermanus Henning, chief inspector of mines for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, was at the competition and explained to The Squamish Chief that the ministry is responsible for permitting—allowing people to go and do the work—and for health and safety at the operations.

Henning is responsible for the latter.

For the ministry, the competitions, which are held in different locations around the province once a year, are an opportunity to assess the teams' preparation in person.

Though incidents are rare, certainly much rarer than they were in previous generations, mining is still not a hazard-free profession. Thus, emergency teams need to be ready to jump into action, should something unexpected happen.

In addition to competing against fellow mines' teams and learning from each other, Henning said that there is a lot of camaraderie among people working in the mining industry—and their families—so the competitions are a good opportunity to spend time with each other.

Keith Winship, a health and safety manager for a B.C. mine, noted how unique and helpful it is to hold the rescue competition at Britannia Mine, a former copper mine that was in operation for 70 years.

"It is a great opportunity for the guys and gals to practice their skills," he said.

“Typically, it's more of a mocked-up scenario, but this one has been more realistic—it actually happened in a mine. So it's a good opportunity for them.”

While the competition is over, you can learn about the evolution of mining safety at the museum's “Rock Solid: Safety in Mines” exhibit, which is on until Sept. 2. 

Find out more on the museum's website.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks