Tunneling wraps up at Rio Tinto mine site


For The Daily News

BIG BAY – Redpath Mining Contractors and Engineers are expected to complete their tunneling work at Rio Tinto’s Eagle Mine today, after nearly two years of effort.

Workers first began drilling into bedrock in September 2011 as work on the tunnel began. Since then, Redpath, which is headquartered in North Bay, Ont., has built more than two miles of underground tunnels.

“The main decline tunnel, vent raise (ventilation shaft), egress raise (secondary escape) and several development levels are complete,” said Rio Tinto spokesman Daniel Blondeau. “This concludes the pre-operations underground work at Eagle.”

The mine reaches about 800 feet at its deepest point.

Blondeau said the underground tunneling work was “exceptional” and was completed without a single loss time injury.

Blondeau said Redpath personnel will be removing their equipment from the mine site over the next few weeks.

Redpath has 40 employees associated with the contract, of which 21 are local, Blondeau said.

The Eagle Mine, located in Michigamme Township on the Yellow Dog Plains, is an underground mining operation that will mine and backfill the ore body, which contains nickel and copper. Rio Tinto will use drilling and blasting to remove the ore in stopes.