BHP Billiton may face mine safety charge at Olympic Dam

BHP may be charged over a safety incident at the Olympic Dam mine in 2009.

The mine saw a hoist failure, which caused a skip loaded with ore to fall down its primary Clark Shaft.

As the loaded skip fell it caused another on a linked cable to fly up the shaft, damaging the headframe.

BHP put the accident down to a failure of its computer braking system.

At the time a BHP spokesperson, Kelly Quirke, told Australian Mining that “detailed investigations by the company, with a third party independent expert, have found that a fault in the logic of the braking system was the root cause of the accident,” she said.

“The fault prevented the system’s breaking mechanism from engaging fully, which in turn allowed the hoisting system to freefall to the bottom of the shaft.”

Inspectors from SafeWork SA’s specialist Mines and Major Hazard Facilities Team also investigated the accident.

According The Australian, a SafeWork SA spokesperson said they are still reviewing the incident and considering whether charges will be laid.

It has until October to decide if the miner will be charged.

Production at the shaft fell by 75% during repairs, costing the company US$115 million in ‘idle capacity cost,’ according to BHP chief Marius Kloppers.

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