Queensland mines are being advised to prepare for the imminent wet season after previous years have brought severe weather conditions.
In a statement today Andrew Cripps, Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines said mining operations need to have site contingency plans in place to enable them to respond safely and efficiently to any weather events that may arise.
“We saw the devastation caused during the 2010-11 wet season when floodwaters inundated many Queensland mines and brought the coal industry to a virtual standstill,” Cripps said.
“Destructive winds and heavy rain can damage surface structures, cause site flooding, and lead to dangerous conditions for workers,” he said.
Increasingly damaging wet season’s have hit Queensland in past years and being underprepared can not only put lives at risk but also disrupt whole operations causing considerable economic flow on effects.
“The 2010-11 wet season demonstrated that not being prepared can put lives at risk and disrupt mining operations for many months.
“That’s why mine operators and workers need to be aware of any potential hazards that could occur and make preparations to deal with severe weather,” Cripps said.
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has issued a storm checklist to all industry operators to assist wet season planning.
“Queensland laws require all mining resource operations to have appropriate site safety and health management plans in place.
“They must have adequate resources, facilities and procedures in place to maintain effective management before, during and after a severe weather event.” Cripps said.
Miners need to have adequate emergency response and rescue plans Cripps added.
“They must also identify any potential hazards on site and secure machinery, equipment and infrastructure and make it safe prior to a severe weather event,” he said.
In 2011 Australian Mining reported three quarters of Queensland’s coal mines were flooded.
At the time Queensland Resources Council chief Michael Roche said “I flew over the mines recently and there was activity, but still pit after pit was filled with water”.
The flooding impacted the economy significantly; according to Roche in February 2011 the state exported eight million tonnes of coal compared to 12 million tonnes in February 2010.
Describing the last wet season as disastrous for coal mining in the state, Roche said at the time that miners can only look towards preparing for the next wet season, and dealing with the high levels of water already on site.
“What the companies are telling me is the single largest problem they have is that under the new water discharge conditions, which came into force in 2009, they were not able to deal with the build-up of water on their sites in 2008/09, therefore, not able to get ready for the wet season we have just come through.
“Many mines went into this wet season with substantial quantities of water and then this wet season has just played havoc with so many of them,” he said.
Cockatoo Coal's Baralaba open cut pit saw masses of water flood into it at the start of the 2011, as did many other open cut mines in central Queensland.