WA gold miner fined for not securing stolen explosives

The Higginsville operation. Image: Westgold Resources

Gold company Avoca Mining has been fined $20,000 in Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to four charges related to the secure storage of explosives.

WA Police uncovered the theft of 100kg of explosives from the Higginsville gold operation near Norseman in the state’s Goldfields region in May 2015.

Two men and a woman were convicted in relation to the theft from Higginsville, which is operated by Avoca, a subsidiary of Westgold Resources.

WA Department of Mines and Petroleum chief dangerous goods officer Ross Stidolph said the department’s investigation into the theft discovered a series of failures with regard to secure storage of explosives.

“While the company did make some efforts to comply with regulations, given the high risks to the community associated with explosives, any failures in the systems used to keep explosives secure should be considered as particularly serious,” Stidolph said.

“The department’s investigation found that inventory records did not accurately account for explosives moving in and out of the explosives storage facility.

“Companies with an explosives licence need to conduct regular stocktakes and ensure they adequately investigate any discrepancies with their inventory.”

In handing down the decision, Magistrate Sandra De Maio said the security of explosives was dependent on the rigorous application of measures and actions that together serve to create a system of checks and balances that allow for the timely detection of an unexplained loss of explosives.

Despite records showing discrepancies between the recorded quantities of explosives and the actual quantities of explosives stored, discrepancies were not investigated by the company.