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Mining Firm Cited For Safety Violations Prior To Miner's Death

Federal investigators continue to look into the accident that killed a miner in north Idaho last week. One new detail that’s emerged: The contractor that employed the worker had been cited for a safety violation related to preventing falls in dangerous areas — like the spot where this fatal accident occurred.

Brandon Gray and a fellow miner were deep underground at the Lucky Friday Mine, in Idaho’s Silver Valley. They were excavating what’s known as a “bin,” where broken rock is stored.

According to a preliminary federal report, something happened when Gray entered the bin –- and rock debris engulfed him. He died a few days later from injuries.

Gray worked for a contractor named Cementation, USA. In September, federal inspectors doing a routine safety check at the Lucky Friday Mine cited Cementation with four violations. They included one marked “significant and substantial.”

Inspectors found the company violated rules for going into rock bins, including use of safety belts and lines. The citation carried a $4,000 penalty.

Cementation managers have said Brandon Gray was wearing his safety gear at the time of the accident. His death marks the second at the Lucky Friday Mine this year.

Meanwhile, the mine’s owner, Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla Mining, announced the latest shut down will not affect 2011 silver production.

On the Web:

Brandon Gray’s obituary, Shoshone News Press

MSHA preliminary accident report:

Lucky Friday Mine:

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