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Norilsk Nickel: 3 miners dead at Taimyr; operations unaffected

Methane poisoning may be to blame for the deaths of three miners deep below the surface of PJSC Norilsk Nickel Co.'s Taimyr mine in the Arctic Circle, Interfax reported Oct. 22, citing an "informed source."

At 4:30 p.m. local time, three miners were discovered "without signs of life" at a depth of 1,345 meters in the top nickel and palladium producer's northernmost mine in Siberia, according to a company news release. An internal investigation is underway as well as an inquiry by the Investigative Committee of Russia.

A company representative told S&P Global Market Intelligence that it was unclear if the deaths were due to methane poisoning but emphasized that the mine's operations were unaffected and continuing.

"The causes of the accident are being investigated," the representative added. "More information will be provided on our web page in English soon as it becomes available."

There was no collapse at the site of the accident, Interfax reported, citing Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations.

No one else was injured, despite reports to the contrary, the head of the press service of the company's Polar Division, Mikhail Demyanov, told Interfax-Siberia.

"According to initial information, there was no gas emission in the mine," Demyanov was quoted as saying.

In the southern part of Krasnoyarsk Krai, three people remain missing after two more bodies were found Oct. 22 following the collapse of several dams at an alluvial gold mine that released torrents of water, inundating worker's dormitories Oct. 19.