Mine stop-work powers ‘scary’: gold miner


Summary

New powers for health and safety representatives in all mines following the Pike River disaster are a “scary proposition” and should be limited to coal mines only, a gold mining company says.

南宁桑拿

Bernie O’Leary, who manages Oceana Gold’s Macraes Mine in Otago, on Thursday urged parliament’s industrial relations select committee to pare back the proposed new inspectors’ roles in the Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill.

The bill includes recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Pike River Coal Mine disaster in November 2010 which left 29 men dead following explosions in the mine.

Unions or groups of workers will be able to appoint health and safety representatives – similar to Australia’s mine check inspectors – who will be able to give notice of suspension of mining operations when there is a risk of serious harm, or to call a stop to operations if the risk of harm is imminent.

Oceana Gold – the country’s largest gold miner, and second largest mines operator after Solid Energy – objects to the suspension power, and wants it removed from the bill.

“It’s a pretty powerful part of the act, and quite frankly a scary proposition in the hands of an ill-informed or maybe overly eager representative,” Mr O’Leary said.

He says the royal commission made it clear health and safety representatives should only be able to halt operations when the risk is imminent, and in other cases, the representative should take their concerns to a mines inspector.

Mr O’Leary also warned unions might misuse the representatives’ powers for their own interests, and there were not adequate safeguards in the bill to prevent that.

Oceana Gold wants the representatives’ powers to apply only to coal mines, where methane is a major hazard, as is the case in Australia.

“For the non-coal part of the industry, check inspectors are neither necessary nor add any value, and in some cases, a wrongful stop-work notice could cost an operation,” he said

The bill will also require mining companies to pay a mines rescue levy to fund disaster teams, but Oceana Gold wants it funded on a user-pays basis.


New powers for health and safety representatives in all mines following the Pike River disaster are a “scary proposition” and should be limited to coal mines only, a gold mining company says.

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Bernie O’Leary, who manages Oceana Gold’s Macraes Mine in Otago, on Thursday urged parliament’s industrial relations select committee to pare back the proposed new inspectors’ roles in the Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill.

The bill includes recommendations from the Royal Commission into the Pike River Coal Mine disaster in November 2010 which left 29 men dead following explosions in the mine.

Unions or groups of workers will be able to appoint health and safety representatives – similar to Australia’s mine check inspectors – who will be able to give notice of suspension of mining operations when there is a risk of serious harm, or to call a stop to operations if the risk of harm is imminent.

Oceana Gold – the country’s largest gold miner, and second largest mines operator after Solid Energy – objects to the suspension power, and wants it removed from the bill.

“It’s a pretty powerful part of the act, and quite frankly a scary proposition in the hands of an ill-informed or maybe overly eager representative,” Mr O’Leary said.

He says the royal commission made it clear health and safety representatives should only be able to halt operations when the risk is imminent, and in other cases, the representative should take their concerns to a mines inspector.

Mr O’Leary also warned unions might misuse the representatives’ powers for their own interests, and there were not adequate safeguards in the bill to prevent that.

Oceana Gold wants the representatives’ powers to apply only to coal mines, where methane is a major hazard, as is the case in Australia.

“For the non-coal part of the industry, check inspectors are neither necessary nor add any value, and in some cases, a wrongful stop-work notice could cost an operation,” he said

The bill will also require mining companies to pay a mines rescue levy to fund disaster teams, but Oceana Gold wants it funded on a user-pays basis.