Copper Mines of Tasmania pleads guilty after worker deaths

Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) has pleaded guilty to safety failure charges after the deaths of underground workers its Mt Lyell site in 2013.

The two men died after falling approximately 20 metres down a mine shaft when a linkage assembly fell onto the temporary wooden platform they were working on, making it break away.

CMT was accused of failing to maintain a safe workplace following the incident.

The pleas were submitted at the Burnie Magistrates Court, where CMT received another workplace safety charge for the death of another worker in January 2014, following a mud rush.

No plea was entered for the second charge.

Peter Walker, CMT general manager, care and maintenance, said the guilty plea came after discussions with the office of the director of public prosecutions, The Advocate reports.

“Our hearts go out to the families and the friends of the three men,” he said.

“We recognise that these court hearings are very difficult times for all concerned and we want to support them as much as we can.”

“We have been somewhat frustrated with the length of time it has taken for these matters to be finalised, but we also understand that these are complex matters that require careful consideration.”

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s (AMWU) Ian Drake said the families “will feel very relieved from it”, according to a report by the ABC.

“This will take a while to sort out. I can imagine pleading guilty [that the] magistrate…will take a fair while to make a decision on this, because it could finish up…[with]…a huge fine,” he said.

The company’s former general manager was also charged for failure to comply with his duties as a site officer following the mud rush incident. The case has been adjourned until October 17.

Sentencing for the first charge will occur early November.

Operations ceased at the mine following the deaths; in November last year the company deferred its decision to reopen, despite a $25 million assistance package from the Tasmanian Government. It is currently in care and maintenance.

 

 

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