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Fatal bear attack at Greens Creek Mine

 

Last updated 10/12/2018 at 4:39am

Kevyn Jalone; U.S. National Park Service

Despite the roughly 1,600 brown bears on Admiralty Island where Greens Creek is located, the fatal incident on Oct. 1 is the first encounter with bears by mine employees or contractors that resulted in injury.

An 18-year-old man was fatally attacked by a female brown bear with two cubs while working at a remote drill site on Hecla Mining Company's Greens Creek silver mine property in Southeast Alaska.

The mauling victim, identified as Anthony Montoya from Hollis, Oklahoma, works for Timberline Drilling, an Idaho-based company that carries out surface drilling at Greens Creek.

"I want to express our condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of the individual at this difficult time," said Greens Creek Mine General Manager Keith Malone.

Admiralty Island, which is located just south of the Alaska capital of Juneau, is renowned for its bear population.

Despite the estimated 1,600 brown bears roaming this 1,650-square-mile island, Greens Creek spokesman Mike Satre said this is the first run-in that resulted in any kind of injury in the mine's three-decade history.

"Bears are regular visitors in and around our workplace, however this is the first time since the mine opened almost thirty years ago that a bear encounter has resulted in an injury of any kind," he said.

Satre told Mining News that all employees and contractors are required to receive bear awareness and safety training before they can work on the mine property.

Exploration drilling is commonly carried out well away from the mine facilities and Montoya was working at one such site that is only accessible by helicopter.

Satre said employees and contractors assigned to such remote locations have additional training and checklists that must be completed prior to work.

Few details are available on the circumstances surrounding Montoya's fatal encounter with the brown bears.

The site has been secured and Greens Creek personnel are working with state and federal authorities to investigate the incident.

This marks the second bear related fatality associated with Alaska mining operations in two years. In June 2017 a black bear killed a geologist working at a remote site on the Pogo gold mine property in Interior Alaska.

–SHANE LASLEY

 

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