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Two men killed in Montana mine accident are identified

FILE - In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy's Eagle...
FILE - In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy's Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Coal mining in the top U.S. coal-producing region was down sharply at the end of 2019 compared to the year before. Coal production in the Powder River Basin of northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana fell nearly 14 percent in the last quarter compared to the same period in 2018.(AP Photo/Mead Gruver, File)(Mead Gruver | AP)
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 10:00 AM MDT
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NYE, Mont. (AP) — The Stillwater County Coroner’s Office has identified two men who were killed last week in an underground accident at a Montana mine.

Sixty-five-year-old Dale Ketola of Columbus, Montana and 55-year-old Jerry Ashlock of Caldwell, Idaho died Wednesday in a crash at the Stillwater Mine near the community of Nye, according to a coroner’s statement released by county Sheriff Charles Kem.

The Billings Gazette reports that both men were pronounced dead by the time first responders arrived at the scene.

The workers were in a utility vehicle called a side-by-side that crashed into an underground locomotive, according to Heather McDowell, a vice president with South Africa-based Sibanye-Stillwater, which owns the Stillwater Mining Co.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Mine officials say they are working with safety regulators.

Stillwater Mining Co. is the only palladium and platinum mining company in the U.S. It has 2,335 employees and contractors, according to its website. Just over 1,200 of them work at the mine in Nye, McDowell said.

Its other palladium and platinum mine is near the small Montana city of Big Timber, and the company has a refining complex in the nearby town of Columbus.

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