Goldcorp's First Annual Mine Rescue Summit: Sharing Knowledge and Advancing Safety

Oct 8, 2014 9:10 PM ET

Goldcorp 2013 Sustainability Report

While we recognize that individuals are ultimately responsible for their safety, we strive to equip our employees with the tools, training and mindset that result in continual safety awareness. From our operations to our offices, we seek an incident-free workplace. 

Mining is a high-risk business – and every Goldcorp mine is prepared for this reality, with highly trained, well-equipped rescue teams at the ready. Fortunately, disasters are rare, and these teams’ skills are seldom, if ever, put to use. For the rescue teams, this creates a challenge: how can you remain on top of your game when a mine rescue situation may never occur?

To keep the rescue teams sharp, and to promote safety awareness throughout the company, Goldcorp held a Mine Rescue Summit in July 2013. The week-long summit took place in Reno, Nevada, where a dozen rescue teams gathered from Goldcorp mine sites across Canada, Mexico, the United States, Guatemala and Argentina. “It was about the opportunity to learn from each other,” said Bernie Haley from the Musselwhite mine, a Summit organizer, “a chance to promote shared learning, communication and collaboration across operations.”

Mario Romero came to the summit from the El Sauzal mine in Mexico, where the rescue team members competed to attend. Starting in March, he said, team members put in months of preparation in the hopes of becoming one of the team of seven representatives.

Goldcorp employees spent a week at a Reno convention centre and an emergency training centre in the Nevada desert. Participants honed their skills and improved their knowledge in seminars, workshops and group meetings, and rehearsed fire response, first aid, confined space and vehicle rescue techniques.

Rescue teams spoke Spanish, French or English, but language barriers were quickly overcome. “The spoken language was unnecessary,” said Ron Everett of the Wharf mine. “When you looked across the room and watched someone doing first aid or a fire drill or extraction it was all the same language.” Romero agreed, “It was intense and fun. By the second day we were all talking ... the language of mine rescue.”

Mine managers and senior executives were also in attendance, including CEO Chuck Jeannes and COO George Burns. The managers and executives were given rescue challenges to perform. “It was an opportunity to show some of our corporate staff what mine rescue is all about,” said event organizer Markus Uchtenhagen, and gave the rescue teams a chance to see their senior leaders in a different light. Uchtenhagen is the company’s Mine Rescue Project Manager and was one of the guiding forces behind the summit.

While the spirit of the summit was educational and team building, rather than competitive, at the end of the week, judges singled out the El Sauzal team for special commendation. Said Romero, “I felt like a real winner on the last day, when the entire El Sauzal team went up to receive our medals. During the closing event, the stand was mobbed by all the other brigade members from the other units, exchanging souvenirs, taking pictures and giving congratulations. For me, the whole experience was very emotional.”

“We wanted to use the wealth of talent that we have from within the company to its maximum. I feel that we demonstrated that we have the skills and desire within our company to become a leading force in the rescue field,” said Uchtenhagen. Plans are in place to make the Goldcorp Mine Rescue Summit a biennial event.

Read more about our Safety and Health Stories in our Sustainablitily report: