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Manitoba mine rescue competition shelved for season, will return next year

Annual competition shelved because of mine production changes, fires, COVID-19, shortages
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Mechanic of mining machines.

Manitoba mine rescue teams will have to wait until next year for head-to-head competition. This year’s Manitoba Provincial Mine Rescue Competition has been cancelled, with organizers now focusing on next year’s event.

Before the cancellation, this year’s competition was not slated to take place in one location - instead, participating teams would partake in events at four separate mine sites, with judges on site to evaluate the teams. This remote form of competition was supposed to take place from Sept. 8-16.

The reason for the cancellation, according to Mining Association of Manitoba Inc. (MAMI) president Richard Trudeau, is due to several factors, including production changes with Manitoba mines, material shortages, fires, travel restrictions and - of course - COVID-19.

“Many of Manitoba’s mines are currently in the re-opening or ramping up stages. As well, local communities have had travel restrictions, fire bans and faced material shortages that have made preparing four separate locations for a multi-site competition extremely challenging from both a cost-control and organizing perspective,” Trudeau said.

“In a typical year, Manitoba’s teams also travel to other competitions across Canada, so for the past 18 months we have been working to keep team members in a state of readiness, while also balancing provincial and corporate health restrictions,”

The Manitoba Provincial Mine Rescue Competition was last held in 2019 in Flin Flon at 777 mine, with the team from Hudbay Flin Flon - then consisting of captain Mike Desjarlais, second Jarrod Ritch, third Mike Bassham, fourth Rob Johnson, vice-captain David Green, director of operations Phil Cardell, technician Kelly Willetts and coach Tracy Knutson - winning top spot. Hudbay’s Snow Lake mine rescue team finished second, followed by teams from Vale Thompson and the Tanco mine in southeast Manitoba.

The MAMI plans to resume the competition - the organization of which is mandated by provincial mining regulations - next spring. The 2020 event, which was slated to take place in Thompson, was cancelled due to the pandemic.