The Mining Association of Nova Scotia is marking the anniversary of the Westray mine disaster by highlighting how the industry has changed in recent decades.
“As an industry, we believe the most important thing to come out of a mine is the miner, and our safety record reflects this,” said Sean Kirby, executive director of MANS. “Injury rates in the mining and quarrying industry have been reduced 90 per cent in the last two decades, and are lower than other comparable industries. We are committed to continuous improvement in safety and to making sure a tragedy like Westray never happens again. Nothing is more important than ensuring our friends and colleagues get home safely to their families each night.”
The Westray mine in Plymouth exploded at 5:20 a.m. on May 9, 1992, taking the lives of 26 miners. A public inquiry into the disaster, conducted Justice K. Peter Richard, led to significant changes in the way the industry is regulated and was a milestone in the establishment of a safety culture that has become a hallmark of the industry today.
Justice Richard’s 1997 report also commented that “The industry is very close-knit with an interdependence, camaraderie, and fellowship that may be unique in modern-day business. And people in the industry, at all levels, regard what occurred at Westray as a personal matter affecting them as if it had happened in their own backyard. It is for them a family tragedy.”
Nova Scotia’s mining and quarrying industry is a key creator of jobs and prosperity for Nova Scotians. It provides 5,500 jobs, mostly in rural areas, and contributes $420 million dollars to the province’s economy each year.