The great Canadian mining non-disaster

A couple of dozen men in hard hats and orange coveralls are gathered in a brightly lit, mud-splattered room, chatting about the type of topics we all chat about at work – the Leafs’ prospects, a daughter’s coming wedding, a deer someone saw on the drive in.
What makes these men different from pampered folks like you and me is that they are getting ready to drop more than half a mile into the earth. Once underground at Vale SA’s Totten Mine in Sudbury, Ont., they will operate giant scoops and haulers in dim, sweltering tunnels that have the capacity to kill the unwary or the unlucky.
“We’re lucky here because the depth and the ground conditions are pretty favourable for less seismic activity,” mine manager Gilbert Lamarche says nonchalantly as we prepare for the “cage,” or elevator, that will take us down to working depth. “But in …