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Despite extremely cold temperatures, Butte miners continue to work



Butte, Montana – The employees at Montana Resources continue to work even when the temperature in Butte drops below -20º.

“We never stop. We’re 24/7, 365 days a year. You know, Butte gets this kind of weather, we’ve dealt with it before and we know how to do it, we know how to keep going,” said Montana Resources VP of Human Resources Mike McGivern.

After 20 years of driving haul trucks at the mine, Denim Hellyer is ready for long shifts.

“Pretty much business as normal, you just dress for the weather. Dress so you don’t freeze. Dress like you would if you was going ice fishing or something,” said Hellyer.

The intense cold doesn’t stop mining activities, but it can occasionally lead to equipment malfunctions.

“Once in a while the machines get so cold they can’t run, the shovels and stuff, but we try to keep everything going. Once things go down it’s hard to get them back up in this weather,” said Hellyer.

At the mine, the recent arctic blast resulted in some plumbing problems.

“We had a frozen waterline to the lab, and I guess if that’s the worst thing we have today then it’s going to be a good day,” said McGivern.

To keep haul trucks from skidding, special trucks spread new gravel on the highways.

Still, conditions were so chilly that morning that Hellyer reported his huge haul truck began sliding backward at one point. He needed to move quickly.

“I knew if I touched my back right wheels to the berm it would just spin me around and straighten me out going downhill. There was no one behind me, so I was able to basically just spin it around and go down the hill,” said Hellyer.

At the mine, they place a strong emphasis on safety, particularly on days when it is unsafe to spend a lot of time outside.

“The mines got to keep on track. You hope the guys can be inside and be in their equipment and we don’t have problems outside,” said McGivern.


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