Photo: Canadian Press
On May 2, 2019, at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary, a Suncor Energy Inc. Logo shown. Suncor says a worker at an Alberta base plant mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta, has died. Canadian Press / Jeff McIntosh
A worker has died in an accident at the base mine of Alberta Sankar Energy Inc.
The Calgary-based energy agency confirmed Thursday that a contractor was killed Thursday morning at a site north of Fort McMurray.
The name of the deceased was not disclosed, but Sankar’s spokesman Leithan Slade said the next of kin had been notified.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of this person,” Slade said. RCMP was called to the scene and is investigating occupational health and safety.
Thursday’s death was the latest in a string of deaths at the company’s workplace. Since 2014, at least 12 people have died at Sankor’s sites, more than all of its oil-sand rivals combined.
The loss of life has caught the attention of active investor Elliott Investment Management, who earlier this spring pointed a finger at Sankar’s safety record as part of his lawsuit to overhaul the company’s board and management.
In May, Sankar CEO Mark Little said the company was already making changes, including a third-party security review, bringing in new management and incorporating new management, including former LNG Canada CEO Peter Zebedi (currently executive vice-president of Sankar Mining and Upgrading). Fatigue management and collision avoidance technology at its Telsand sites to reduce the risk to workers and contractors.
From that perspective, Thursday’s latest incident is unfortunate, says Mike Archibald, vice-president and portfolio manager at AGF Investments Inc.
“It looks like they (Sankar) are turning a corner towards the security of their special project and obviously now you have another fatal incident,” Archibald said.
Sankar’s infamous safety record includes the death of a contractor in a truck accident at the company’s base mine site in January, as well as a 2021 incident in a bulldozer collision with a pickup truck at the Fort Hills oilfield mine. Two contract workers died in the incident.
Another worker died in 2021 when the bulldozer he was driving fell through the ice of a tailing pond at Sankor’s base mine.
One of the company’s refineries caught fire in March, injuring one.
Suncor will hold an “Oil Sand Operation Presentation” for investors on Wednesday. The event, which was scheduled before this most recent workplace death occurred, will provide production updates as well as “plans to ensure safe and reliable performance,” the company said.