File photo: The logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA.
File photo: The logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA. Image Credit: REUTERS

Montreal: Thirty-nine miners have been trapped underground in eastern Canada for at least 24 hours after an accident damaged the transport system, cutting off access to the main exit, the company that owns the mine said Monday.

None of the miners were injured in the Sunday afternoon incident, and they have had access to food and water, said Brazilian mining company Vale, which hopes to free its employees by Monday evening.

The company said in a statement that a heavy scoop bucket detached from and collided with the conveyance system, rendering it unusable.

But "the rescue crew has reached the miners and is starting to move them up via a secondary egress ladder system," Vale said.

"No one was on board the main transport system when the incident occurred," company spokeswoman Danica Pagnutti told Radio Canada.

"We understand this rescue will take some time and are very relieved to hear the miners are currently uninjured," tweeted Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, where the mine is located.

All operations at the Totten mine in Sudbury, Ontario have been halted since Sunday, and Vale says it will conduct an assessment before resuming production.

The mine had closed in 1972, but Vale completed work and reopened it in 2014. In the first six months of 2021, about 3,600 tons of finished nickel were extracted from it.