Changes at Nevada mine company after fatal worker bus crash

This photo released by the Nevada Highway Patrol shows the scene of a fatal accident involving a coach bus
and a tractor-trailer rig Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019 on State Route 766 approximately 6 miles north of Carlin, Nev. The bus carrying mine employees collided head-on with the tractor-trailer rig causing the fatalities and several injuries authorities said. (Jim Stewart/Nevada Highway Patrol via AP)

ELKO, Nev. (AP) — The head of a Nevada mining company says they’re taking steps to address safety and emergency response concerns after a truck hauling ore collided this summer with a bus carrying employees to a gold mine near Carlin, killing the two drivers and injuring 20 others.

Nevada Gold Mines Executive Managing Director Greg Walker said they’ve been working with private contractors who were operating the vehicles to ensure proper fatigue management and consulting with state transportation officials to address safety concerns on the canyon road where the crash occurred.

They’re also developing better ways to assist workers in the aftermath of such tragedies.

“We found that we were wanting in emotional support and trauma counseling,” he told the Elko Daily Free Press.

Nevada Gold Mines set up an account and contributed funds to match any employee donations received in support of employees affected by the crash. Walker said this fundraising effort concluded in early November, and a total of $117,000 was raised for the families.

As of Nov. 1, 11 people involved in the accident had not yet returned to work because of the physical or emotional effects of the accident.

“Our emergency response was pretty good. We found a few weaknesses which we could fix. But the main weakness was we were not able to respond very well to providing the emotional support for the employees. So we are addressing that,” Walker said.

“We really struggled to get somebody here in a timely fashion to be able to deal with the trauma that people were put through. Not just the people on the bus, but there were two buses behind, and those two buses responded to the event straightaway. So there were a lot of people traumatized. And then you’ve got the workers who had their friends and workmates who were injured.

Walker said his company has changed its schedules and has asked mine suppliers to also change their schedules to reduce the number of trucks on the road when buses are traveling to and from the mines.

“And we’ve been working with the Nevada Department of Transportation to do a review of what we call the canyon roads,” Walker said. “Between Gold Quarry and Goldstrike the road goes up through a winding canyon, and there have been a number of incidents there.”

“There are simple things, like we put flashing lights before you get to the corner saying slow down, and changes like that, but really it needs an engineering fix. That corner needs to be fixed.”

Nevada Gold Mines also is also looking into alternative ways of hauling in order to get the trucks off of the road.

“We’re looking at whether we can put a spur rail system in from the main rail system and rail into the mine sites from the back. We’ve also looked at building our own dedicated roads through the backcountry to get off the state and federal roads.”

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