An incredible commitment after the fire

Project reconstruction is underway. "We’re cleaning up and tearing down what has been destroyed but at the same time working to rebuild everything as soon as possible", says Jan Batte.

When something happens that must not happen. It’s the evening of the 6th July, 2020. Jan Batte, Production Manager at SMA Mineral, like so many others, has just started his holiday. Then the site manager of the Gåsgruvan mine calls:
“There’s a fire!”

So although it was holiday time, there were lots of people from SMA Mineral making their way together with Jan to Gåsgruvan that evening. There they were met by a full-blown fire and several fire brigades working on extinguishing the fire.

Dramatic progress
“The fire was at the top of the tallest building, 30 metres up in the air, and soon it turned out that there was also a fire in the mine, 30 metres underground. It was very dramatic”, Jan says.

The fire started on top of the 180-metre-long belt conveyor. After being burned loose, the conveyor belt fell into the mine and set it alight as well.

“It was hard to put out. The firefighters couldn’t get down and had to throw water into the mine. They used ladder trucks to stop the fire at the top.

No injuries
Most importantly, it caused no injuries. The evening shift with 3-4 people was in full swing but no-one was in the vicinity of where the fire started. The safety procedures and the assembly also went exactly as it should.

But what would the fire mean for SMA Mineral’s customers? Would delivery reliability and, by extension, customer operations be affected?

“Those of us who were there started setting up guidelines there and then. We saw what had been affected and what had not”, says Jan Batte, explaining how the employees, contractors and suppliers showed 110 percent support from that first night.

An incredible commitment
All the customers affected by the fire had received information about what had happened by the very next day and that SMA Mineral was working intensively to solve production and delivery issues. Only a few days later, customers could be informed that they would not be affected at all – thanks in part to an external contractor who quickly put his crusher in place at Gåsgruvan and with the help of materials and transport from other units within the company.

“We’ve received incredible commitment from everyone. Many employees as well as contractors went in and gave up their holidays in order to help. We are an employer in a small community where almost everyone has some connection with the business, that shows when something like this happens”.

Project reconstruction is underway
Now the summer has turned into autumn and the limestone in the Gåsgruvan mine is still being crushed with external help. Instead of the conveyor belt, wheeled vehicles are taking the limestone out of the mine.

What else is going on?

“We’re cleaning up and tearing down what has been destroyed but at the same time working to rebuild everything as soon as possible”, says Jan Batte, again giving all employees at Gåsgruvan a lift, where “project reconstruction” is underway at the same time as production is carrying on almost as usual.

“There is a fantastic drive here. And if such a tragic thing brings something positive with it, it’s that it’s strengthened the group. We have a clear common goal – to get it all started again”.

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