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The Val d’Or region experienced two tremors due to Sunday morning mining activity


Montreal – The calm in the Val d’Or was disturbed by two seismic events early Sunday morning.

The two quakes came as a result of operations at the Goldex mine in the western part of the city, owned by Agnico Eagle.

“At around 2:50 am on Sunday morning, I felt a seismic event of magnitude 2.9 on the Richter scale in several sectors of the Val d’Or,” said Jocelyn Jelinas, the mine’s general manager. “After about two minutes, we saw another seismic activity, this time at a magnitude of 1.5.”

The mine was quickly evacuated and an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the earthquake. Seismic activity was felt at the surface, although it occurred 200 meters from the bottom of the plume.

“Normally one does not feel these tremors on the surface,” said Gilinas. “No one was injured, the damage is limited but an event like this makes us question our mining methods.”

Jilinas said seismic events like Sunday are not frequent but not unusual.

“It is an existing risk. It is a known risk we take when we land. But we are constantly trying to improve our mining methods to make them safe and efficient.”

As a precaution, Sunday’s shift at the mine has been canceled. While resuming work on Monday, Jilinas said the level at which the activity took place was closed for investigation.

It is the second event of its kind at the Goldex Mine this year. The 2.4 earthquake occurred following an explosion in a deep part of the mine. In 2011, the mine was forced to shut down for nearly two years after part of it collapsed, although no one was injured.

Jilinas said there is no link between the 2020 earthquakes and the 2011 accident.

“In 2011, our mining technologies were very different and our approach was underground as well,” he said. “Earthquakes are a common thing in the mining world. It’s part of the risks, even if we do everything we can to avoid it.”

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on December 21, 2020.


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