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Insurance company to defend Revett Minerals

by Western News
| July 14, 2009 12:00 AM

Revett Minerals’ insurance carrier agreed to defend it in a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed in February concerning a death at Troy Mine two years ago.

Having the insurance company take the financial burden of Revett’s legal defense is positive news for a company that has been struggling since the fourth quarter of last year to keep the mine open with rising costs and plummeting copper and silver prices.

Revett’s chief executive of operations, John Shanahan, and vice president of operations, Carson Rife, declined to comment on the insurance company taking over the lawsuit.

Federal Insurance Co. will not pay damages with respect to certain types of alleged conduct, including alleged intentional or malicious conduct, a Revett Minerals release said. Nor will the insurance company pay punitive damages or damages that exceed its $5 million in policy limits.

The civil lawsuit was launched after a July 30, 2007 mine accident resulted in the death of Michael E. Ivins, a 55-year-old Libby man. A rock roof collapsed onto his truck and, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Ivins died instantly.

Ivins’ family filed the suit, and is seeking $8 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. The action accuses Revett of negligence, failure to provide a safe place to work and intentional and malicious acts, a Revett release said.

Following an investigation, a report by MSHA determined that the Troy Mine management was at fault for the accident because “the mine operator had knowledge of the unstable ground conditions in the area where the accident occurred.”

Troy Mine and Revett officials have denied all allegations concerning the accident.

Operations set to resume following power outage

Operations at Troy Mine were expected to resume Thursday after a Saturday power outage closed the mine for half of a week.

“It’s possible they might get it fully ready to go this evening, but more likely tomorrow,” Carson Rife, vice president of operations for Troy Mine’s parent company Revett Minerals, said Wednesday.

The mine was closed Saturday night in lieu of the Fourth of July holiday, but workers were told to stay home Sunday without pay after an underground electrical short resulted in damage to the mine’s motor control center.

“They need specialized equipment to do testing of the lines to make sure everything is OK before restarting the mine,” Rife said.

The short caused a “fair bit of issues” in the complicated electrical system, Rife said, which “takes time to get everything set up and ready to go.” 

The shutdown occurred the same weekend that workers were informed that half of their wage that was cut in December due to low metal prices would be restored.