Tragedy temporarily closes Nutrien potash mine

Worker died at railcar loading facility in Saskatchewan

Tragedy temporarily closes Nutrien potash mine

The community of Rocanville is mourning the loss of a worker after a tragic incident at the Nutrien potash mine on Sunday. The facility, located approximately 250 kilometers east of Regina, temporarily ceased operations as investigations took place, but has since resumed operations.

Nutrien potash mine in Rocanville, Saskatcewan (Source : Nutrien)
Nutrien potash mine in Rocanville, Saskatcewan (Source: Nutrien)

Nutrien confirmed the fatality at its railcar loading facility. In a statement, Nutrien expressed its condolences, emphasizing the impact on the community and the company's commitment to supporting affected individuals. "Our thoughts go out to the family and friends as well as our own employees who will also be impacted during this very difficult time. Our current focus is on ensuring we have support services available to all those involved," read the company’s statement.

This tragedy follows a workplace injury that took place in March at a Nutrien potash mine near Saskatoon. A 53-year-old worker needed to be rescued from an underground location, and suffered serious injuries.

Union’s reaction and support

The United Steelworkers union (USW), representing 650 members at the Nutrien Rocanville Potash facility, reacted to the tragedy. Derek Palmer, president of USW Local 7916, conveyed the union's condolences and the profound sense of loss felt by the community. "Our community is in mourning over this tragic incident at our mine site and our thoughts go out to the family, friends and our union family who are deeply impacted," Palmer said.

The union's Emergency Response Team (ERT) is actively working with USW Local 7916, Nutrien, and local authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident. Palmer emphasized the union's commitment to worker safety: "Ensuring the health and safety of workers is the number-one priority for the USW. Our union will be working with Nutrien to assist workers both on and off the mine sites."

Official investigations

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety confirmed to Canadian Occupational Safety its involvement but refrained from disclosing specifics. "We can confirm that the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety was notified of a workplace fatality that took place at a Nutrien facility on May 19. We cannot comment on further details of the investigation," stated a ministry spokesperson.

Both Nutrien and the USW have indicated that they will not provide further comments until the internal and external investigations are concluded. The Surface OHC and Mines Branch are also conducting their own review of the incident.

Community and Broader Impact

This incident highlights the inherent risks associated with mining operations and underscores the critical importance of stringent safety protocols. The USW's extensive support network, including its 225,000 members in Canada and 850,000 across North America, stands ready to assist the Rocanville community during this challenging time.

As the investigations proceed, the primary focus remains on providing support to the grieving family and ensuring the safety and well-being of all workers at the mine. The broader community awaits the results of these investigations, hoping for answers and measures that will prevent such tragedies in the future.

The Rocanville community, Nutrien, and the USW are united in grief and determination. While the loss is profound, the collective response underscores a commitment to worker safety and support for those affected by this tragedy.