The NSW government wants to know why so many people are dying on mine sites, with 17 fatalities Australia-wide in 2013-14.
This is the highest death rate since 2005-06 even before the days of the mining boom.
It also represented the death of a worker every 15 days in the six month period to June 2014.
Few states or territories in Australia were spared, with deaths recorded at mine sites all across the country except for South Australia and Victoria.
Over eight months in NSW, five workers were killed, and this has prompted the state’s Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts to search for answers.
Roberts told The Australian he has written to the Mine Safety Advisory Council to seek “a deeper, holistic examination of current circumstances’’.
“I was concerned that an apparent increase in serious incidents was occurring at the same time as external factors were affecting the industry,” Roberts said
The announcement comes amid a growing rumble in the industry that the downturn in commodity prices has led companies to work machines and people harder at the expense of worker safety.
With miners looking to produce more at lower costs, some say industry-wide production drives are partially to blame for the spike in mining deaths.
Contractor workers are overrepresented in the fatality figures and Queensland's Mines Safety Commissioner sounded a warning earlier this year for the industry to look after it workers.
Commissioner Stewart Bell said the “tragic loss of life in the mining industry is unacceptable and immediate steps must be taken to stop it”.
He said mine operators, site senior executives and managers must understand that effective management of contractors is part of their key obligations.
Bell said the “disturbing” increase in mining deaths needs to stop.
Mining deaths 2013-14:
- 15th of August 2013: Contract electrician Kurt Williams died at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek mine in Western Australia following crush injuries.
- November 30 2013: In NSW, contractor Ingrid Forshaw died at Glencore’s Ravensworth mine when the light vehicle she was driving collided with a dump truck.
- December 29 2013: Allen Zuvela killed at Fortescues Christmas Creek mine following crush injuries.
- December 6 2013: A contractor at Telfer mine was killed on after being crushed by polypipe at the gold mine’s tailings dam.
- December 8 2013: Craig Gleeson, 45, and Alistair Lucas, 25, were killed in a mine shaft accident at Mount Lyell copper mine in Tasmania.
- 15 January: Unamed man, 26, became ill and collapsed. Newman exploration lease, Western Australia. BGH Mining Resources.
- 17 January: Michael Welsh, 53 (Mobile Plant Operator – Loader). Killed by a mud-rush. Mt. Lyell Gold Mine, Tasmania. Vedanta Resources.
- 15 February: Wayne Fowlie, 59. Killed in a rock fall. Harlequin Gold Mine, WA. Central Norseman’s Gold.
- 26 February: Daryl Manderson, 61, (Fitter). Crushed in a maintenance accident. Northern Territory. Gove Alumina Refinery (Rio Tinto)
- 16 April: Philip Grant, 35, (Miner Underground – Operator). Killed in an underground collapse. Austar Coal Mine, NSW. Yancoal
- 16 April: Jamie Mitchell, 49, (Miner Underground – Operator). Killed in an underground collapse. Austar Coal Mine, NSW. Yancoal.
- 6 May: Paul McGuire, 34 (Electrician). Succumbed to fumes. Grasstree Coal Mine, Queensland. AngloAmerican.
- 21 May: Mark Galton, 50′s, (Rigger). Fatal crush injury in EWP. Boggabri Coal expansion, NSW. Idemitsu.
- 26 May: Man, 63 (Mobile Plant Operator). Died while operating machinery. Brightstar Gold Mine, Western Australia. A1 Minerals Ltd.
- 11 June: James Hern, 26, (Construction Crew Operator). Died after being sucked into a pipe. CSA Copper, NSW. Glencore.
- 18-21 June: Brett Michael Kelly, 34 (Unknown Occupation). Died after falling down an orepass. MIM Copper, Queensland. Glencore.