Contractor killed in accident at New Afton mine

One dead, two injured in underground mud slide at mine near Kamloops

New Afton mine was originally mined as an open-pit operation. | New Gold screengrab

One contractor has been killed and two injured in an underground mud slide at the New Afton copper-gold mine near Kamloops.

New Gold Inc. (TSX, NYSE: NGD), the company that owns the mine, confirmed the fatality happend around 1:40 a.m Tuesday February 2.

"Two New Gold employees received non-life threatening injuries and received medical care while one contract driller is presumed to be deceased," the company said in a news release.

The name of the victim will not be released until next of kin have been notified, the company said.

"A contractor was one of three workers at the mine who became trapped by an unexpected underground mudslide," Bruce Ralston, minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, said in a news release in response to the fatality. 

"Work at the mine site has been suspended and the chief inspector of mines has initiated an investigation and is in contact with RCMP and the coroner's office."

The New Afton mine was originally mined as an open pit mine. But New Gold is now mining underground, using a technique called block cave mining. While block cave mining has been done elsewhere, it is a realtively new approach in B.C.

In block cave mining, a large area is carved out underneath the ore deposit, and then the ceiling is gradually collapsed.