Mine faulted in 2007 death

ELKO -- Newmont Mining Corp. has been faulted for a deadly June 2007 mine accident in Northern Nevada.

A report released Thursday by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration concludes the company failed to ensure safe ground conditions at its Midas Mine in Elko County.

Dan Shaw, 30, of Winnemucca, was operating a loader about 200 feet below the mine's portal when the ground beneath him caved in. Both Shaw and his loader plunged 30 feet and were buried in the rubble.

Rescue crews worked around the clock for 13 days and removed 5,000 tons of debris before Shaw's body was recovered. No one else was injured.

"The accident occurred because management failed to establish procedures to ensure that safe ground conditions were established and maintained," the MSHA report states.

"The voids that developed in the backfill created hazards for miners working and traveling in the mine. Management was aware that subsidence was occurring in the mine, but did not control the hazards and continued to require miners work and travel in hazardous areas."

Since the accident, Newmont has redefined safety requirements for operating over backfill and implemented additional safety measures for mining in new ground, notes the report, obtained by the Elko Daily Free Press.

Brant Hinze, regional vice president of Newmont's North America Operations, said the company has worked with state and federal officials to take steps to avoid any future accidents.

"All of us take the death of our colleague Dan Shaw personally, and we are committed to learning and implementing the lessons of this tragic accident," Hinze said. "The safety of our employees is our foremost priority."

The accident prompted a suspension of the gold mine's operations for almost four months until corrective measures were taken.