QUEENSLAND Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson has told mining chiefs that as Queensland enters a new era in mining, they must do more to lift the safety standards on every shift at every mine.
Minister Wilson said the safety and health statistics for Queensland’s mines and quarries in the last financial year revealed a decline in their overall safety performance.
“There were four deaths in the mines. They were tragedies that touched the lives of everyone in the community. We’ve simply got to turn those statistics around,” Wilson said.
At a mine safety seminar last week, the Minister told the heads of mining companies throughout the state that the latest figures were unacceptable.
“The State Government has taken a number of significant steps to improve safety and health. But we can’t do it alone. Those responsible for safety must fully play their part,” he said.
“We’ve brought in the unions and the mining companies for round table talks on safety.
“We’ve carried out a series of unannounced safety audits at targeted mines around the state. Where faults were found, mining companies were told to fix them.
“I also wrote to mining companies and made it very clear to them that the lessons learnt from the audit process have to be learnt and honoured in every Queensland mine.
“The Mines Inspectorate has been revitalised to reflect a new, modern era of mining. They’ve recruited 10 new inspectors.
“The new generation of inspectors will be led by a new Chief Inspector of coal mines.
“We have the best mine safety legislation in Australia and it must continue to be enforced from the ground up – mine by mine, employer by employer, worker by worker,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Minister requested an independent review into the statistics in the annual safety report, following concerns they did not accurately reflect the safety performance in some mines.
The review was led by two highly-respected health and safety experts. They examined the data against national and international standards and made a number of recommendations.
“It’s a warts-and-all report and the recommendations have been sent to key stakeholders and my Ministerial reference group for feedback.
“While the report shines a light on what’s being done right, it also hangs a lantern on some of the problems in the mining industry,” Wilson said.
“As far as the recommendations go, nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out.
“I say that emphatically, because nothing is more important than the safety and health of the men and women who work in Queensland’s mines,” Wilson said.