Worker missing after dozer falls through ice on Suncor tailings pond

A worker is missing after a dozer fell through ice Wednesday on an inactive tailings pond at Suncor’s Base Plant mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

An operator was driving across the pond around 3 p.m. when the vehicle broke through the ice, the Calgary-based company said in a statement Thursday. 

As of Thursday morning, the dozer operator remained unaccounted for.

The worker is an employee of Christina River Construction, Suncor said.  

“Our thoughts are with the family, friends, and coworkers of this individual,” it said in an emailed statement to CBC News. 

“Our Emergency Services team responded immediately and continues with response activities. Supporting the safety and well-being of our people remains our number one priority and we have activated critical incident stress debriefing resources.” 

The appropriate authorities have been notified, Suncor said. 

Occupational Health and Safety and the RCMP are investigating the incident, OHS spokesperson Natasha McKenzie said Thursday.

McKenzie said OHS officials have been dispatched to the mine. She declined to provide further details, citing the sensitive nature of the investigation.

It’s the third high-profile safety incident at Suncor operations in northern Alberta in the past five months.

Suncor Base Plant is 30 kilometres north of Fort McMurray. The site had recently undergone repairs after a fire inside the plant’s extraction facilities in August of 2020. Suncor has not released the cause of the fire but the site production was restored at the end of the summer. 

Two workers died Dec. 28 after a bulldozer collided with a pickup truck at Suncor’s Fort Hills mining operation, 90 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

The driver, a 29-year-old man from Bloomfield, N.L., and the passenger, a 28-year-old woman from Calgary, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The 58-year-old man who was driving the bulldozer was not injured. The incident remains under investigation by the company, RCMP and OHS. 

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