More charges laid over Mt Lyell mine deaths

Mount Lyell mine operator Copper Mines of Tasmania, and its general manager Scot Clyde, are facing more charges over a string of deaths at the site.

Last year CMT was charged with the deaths of two workers at the site in December 2013, and faced fines of $1.5 million for failing to ensure safe systems of work.

The two workers, Alistair Lucas and Craig Gleeson, died after they sustained injuries in a mineshaft fall.

The charges relate to the Worksafe investigation which examined whether or not the incident was preventable.

Shortly after the December incident another worker, Michael Welsh, was killed when a mudslide ripped through the lower levels of the mine in January 2014, marking the third fatal incident on site in less than a month.

Now CMT and Clyde are facing charges over Welsh’s death.

Crown prosecutor Sam Thompson has stated CMT is facing failing to ensure safe systems of work, while Clyde has been charged with failing to comply with his duties as a site officer, according to the ABC.

The case has been adjourned until June, an act which the Australian Workers Union called unfair to families.

"The family doesn't get any relief from it, it just keeps going on and on and on, it needs to be settled," he said.

"It'll be a few months before it's set down for a couple of days, there're families hanging off the ends of this.

CMT has stated that the matter is before the courts, and in the meantime its focus remains on the welfare of the three workers’ families.

Since this time CMT has attempted to reopen the mine, however it has been beset by a number of financial and operational issues, and has continually delayed its planned restart.

In November the miner deferred its decision to reopen, despite a $25 million assistance package from the Tasmanian Government.

The incentive was offered in the form of a concession on payroll tax and royalties after the reopening of the mine, however CMT and parent company Vedanta Resources have indicated the restart will not yet go ahead due to falling copper prices.

Tasmanian resources minister Paul Harris said the mine risked permanent closure without the incentive.

"Closure would result in flooding the mine and removing any possibility of reopening," he said.

"The Government has been working with both companies to avoid that happening.

"Unfortunately, however, the immediate outlook remains under the influence of low international metal prices and volatility in the copper market.”

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