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MSHA News Release No. 2000-0717
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452 

 Released Monday, July 17, 2000

Five Teams from Nevada in Competition
More than 30 Teams Worldwide to Face Off in National/International Mine Rescue Contest

They've battled mine fires, contained underground floods and rescued their colleagues trapped beneath layers of rock or disoriented by toxic gases. Mine rescue teams are highly trained specialists with skills that enable them to save lives and recover mine property.

On Wednesday, July 19, these skills will be put to the test. More than 30 teams representing Nevada and nine other states, Bosnia, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Poland and Ukraine will compete in the 2000 National and International Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Competition at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The all-day competition begins at 8 a.m.

This is only the second year in the contest's history to feature foreign teams. The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

"The men and women who serve on mine rescue teams truly are a rare breed of people," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. "They practice over and over again -- often on their own time -- in preparation for a disaster they hope never occurs. When they compete in a rescue contest, they treat it like the real thing."

Mine rescue competitions are designed to test the knowledge of miners who might be called upon to respond to a real mine emergency. The contest requires six-member teams to solve a hypothetical mine emergency problem -- such as a fire, explosion or cave-in -- while judges rate them on their adherence to mine rescue procedures and how quickly they complete specific tasks.

MSHA also will host a series of technical sessions in order that national and international teams may exchange information on mine rescue training, equipment and technical support.

"The mining industry all around the globe faces safety and health challenges," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "These challenges are more difficult in some parts of the world than in others. As all of us struggle to find ways to prevent mining disasters, MSHA welcomes this opportunity to share our technical expertise with other countries. The bottom line, of course, is that we all can learn from each other."

In Thursday's phase of the competition, benchmen -- those individuals charged with maintaining rescue equipment -- must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with and must correct those defects as quickly as possible. In the first aid contest, participants must demonstrate the correct method of caring for an injured miner. Judges assess teams on proper application of skills according to the fundamentals of first aid.

Mine rescue training began in the United States in 1910, the year the U.S. Bureau of Mines was created. Joseph A. Holmes, the bureau's first director, sought a training vehicle that would provide the mining industry with a cadre of mine rescue specialists who would be prepared to respond to mine disasters. The training efforts evolved into local and regional competitions and, a year later, a national contest.

National Teams

Barrick Goldstrike Mining, Meikle Mine (2 teams)
Bechtel V1A Shaft
Newmont Mining Corp., Deep Star, Deep Post, Carlin East Mines
Morris Knudson, Yucca Mountain

Central Mine Rescue Unit, Coeur Silver Valley Mine

Dravo Lime Inc., Black River Operation
Dravo Lime Inc., Maysville Mine

Cargill Salt, Avery Avery Island Mine
IMC Salt Co., Cote Blanche Mine
Morton Salt Co., Weeks Island Mine

Stillwater Mining Co., Nye Operations

New Mexico
IMC Kalium, Carlsbad Mine
Molycorp, Inc., Molybdenum Group (2 teams)
Westinghouse WIPP, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (2 teams)

New York
Cargill, Inc., Cayuga Mine
Zinc Corp. Of America, No. 4 Mine & Mill

Cargill Salt, Cleveland Mine
Morton Salt, Fairport Mine

Morton Salt, Grand Saline Mine

Solvay Minerals, Inc., Solvay Mine (2 teams)
General Chemical Corp., General Chemical Mine (2 teams)
FMC Corp., FMC Mine (3 teams)
OCI of Wyoming, L.P., Big Island Mine (2)