Company charged in bear-mauling death

Mining firm didn't adequately train worker: Yukon WCB

A Yellowknife-based mining company has been charged with negligence relating to a grizzly bear attack that led to the death of a worker in the Yukon last year.

The Yukon Workers' Compensation, Health and Safety Board has laid six charges under the territory's Workers' Compensation Act against Yellowknife-based Aurora Geosciences Ltd., which has an office in Whitehorse.

Last April, Jean-François Pagé, a 28-year-old Quebec native, was staking mining claims in the bush near Ross River, about 200 kilometres northeast of Whitehorse, when he was apparently attacked by a grizzly sow after coming within five metres of a bear den that contained two cubs.

The compensation board alleges that Aurora Geosciences, which provides geological services for mineral, oil and gas exploration in Northern Canada and Alaska, did not properly train or equip Pagé for the job.

The Yukon Chamber of Mines, of which Aurora Geosciences is a member, has called on the board to withdraw its charges and said it's outraged that a company can be held liable for the actions of a wild animal.

However, Kurt Dieckmann, the compensation board's director of occupational health and safety, said that the board will not back down and that the charges aren't related to the bear's behaviour, but to how the company assessed the risk and how it mitigated those risks.

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