Investigators Determine What Caused Elevator to Malfunction at Cargill Salt Mine

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The Cargill salt mine in Lansing has reopened, almost two months after a broken elevator caused 17 miners to become trapped below the Earth.

Officials from Cargill made the announcement Monday.

The mine staff will spend the next several days performing equipment inspections and other preparation work before resuming underground mining.

“Our employees have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from Lansing and surrounding communities.” Shawn Wilczynski, Lansing mine manager. “We extend appreciation of every person, local business and agency who contributed to our efforts. I can’t find enough words to capture my gratitude for how our community has supported us. Thanks for everyone’s support through this process.”

Around 10 p.m. on Jan. 7 an overnight crew was heading into the mine for the start of their shift when the elevator became stuck at the 900-foot level.

Ten hours later the miners were safely rescued and brought back to the surface.

According to officials, a bracket that held one of the two guide rails had broken, causing the elevator car to become stuck.

Working under the oversight of the U.S. Mine Safety & Health Administration, Cargill conducted a thorough inspection of the elevator system. This took time because of the vertical length involved (nearly a half mile) and the desire to do the work safely. “Safety is at the forefront of who we are and what we do,” Wilczynski said.

Since Jan. 7, Cargill continued to ship road salt to customers from stocks already on the surface.

Road salt supplies should remain sufficient for the rest of the winter with the mine’s resumed production later this week.

The mine employs 200 people on three shifts, most working on two shifts. Miners who had not been able to work since Jan. 7 received pay and benefits during the time the mine was not in operation.

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