Flin Flon, Manitoba Smelter Explosion

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Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Explosion at Manitoba mine injures 12

FLIN FLON, Man. (CP) -- A series of explosions ripped through a smelter complex that straddles the Manitoba-Saskatchewan boundary early Tuesday, burning a dozen workers, RCMP said.

The blasts occurred about 1:30 a.m. at the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting facility as a furnace was being cooled down during regular maintenance, police said.

Four of the injured workers were flown to hospitals in Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton, while others were treated and released.

At least three of those workers were in critical condition. No one was killed.

"It's just tragic, it's terrible," Flin Flon Mayor Dennis Ballard said Tuesday.

"This is everything, this is our industry in a one-industry town, this mine is what it is all about."

The smelter and copper mines in the area 675 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg are the major employers in Flin Flon and nearby Creighton, Sask.

RCMP Sgt. Bob Bazylewski said it's believed workers at the smelter were cooling down the furnace with water when something went wrong.

"The water got trapped and built up pressure and then there were a series of explosions. How many we don't know at this time," Bazylewski said.

Of the eight workers who weren't airlifted out, six were treated and released and two were in local hospital.

Hudson Bay Mining is owned by Anglo-American plc, one of the largest mining firms in the world.

The smelter and mines employ about 1200 people in the area.

The company was expected to make a statement about the accident later Tuesday.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), August 08, 2000

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