QLD to develop new blasting guidelines

After two dangerous blasting incidents at BMA coal mines, Queensland is new developing new shot firing guidelines.

The Mining Safety and Health Directorate have created a steering group to investigate post blast fume events and to minimise gas fume events during blasting operations.

The Employment, Skills and Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has said that QLD mine safety representatives have met with mining companies, explosives suppliers and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) to look into the issue.

Hinchliffe said recent incidents at BMA’s Saraji and Peak Downs coal mines had prompted the creation of the steering group.

"Queensland has a reputation of holding one of the safest records in the world when it comes to mining and we want to keep it that way," Hinchliffe said.

The group will be headed by Noel Erichsen, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Explosives.

While it is accepted that all explosions generate gas and that post-blast fume events will never be fully eliminated the steering group is focused on minimising the risk.

"We want this happen quickly, that’s why the steering group will be reporting back with draft guidelines by May 6,” Hinchliffe said.

Existing safeguards like 1km exclusion zones are already in place during blasting operations to protect workers.

On average there are between 120 and 150 shots fired per week during blasting operations in Queensland, and typically less than two per cent of these result in a fume event.

Investigations into the post-blast fume events at BMA’s Saraji and Peak Downs mines continue.

The miner suspended shot firing at the mines early last week, but resumed operations following inspections by the Mackay District Mines Inspector.


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