All the latest news in mine health and safety in NSW
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24 January 2019

In this issue:

Hot weather fire dangers

Hot summer weather, as we are experiencing across the state, may result in total fire bans and may have implications for mining and petroleum operations within the fire ban regions.

Mine operators are reminded that the NSW Government gazetted schedule of standard exemptions to total fire bans, 9 February 2018, states that:
'A total fire ban order may specify that some or all of the following standard exemptions will apply during the total fire ban. A standard exemption will not apply unless specifically referred to in the total fire ban order.'

Item 14 on the schedule of standard exemptions to total fire bans is specific to mining operations:
'14   Mining operations
Fire lit, maintained or used in association with any cutting, welding or grinding work for the purpose of the essential maintenance or repair of mining equipment provided that:
(a) the fire is lit, maintained or used in a manner which will prevent the escape of the fire, and
(b) adequate fire fighting equipment is provided at the site of the fire to prevent the escape or spread of the fire.'

For more information about fire danger ratings and total fire bans please visit the NSW Rural Fire Service's website.

Further information about preparing for fires can also be found on our website at the link below.

Mines and preparing for fires
Supporting innovation

We are committed to having a responsive and effective regulatory framework for work health and safety that supports the development, trial and adoption of new technologies, systems and products.

In developing our new Innovation Policy, we consulted with key stakeholder groups including the NSW Minerals Council, Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia, Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union and Australian Workers Union.

The purpose of this policy is to make clear how we will ensure that the regulatory framework for work health and safety at mines and petroleum sites:

  • supports continuous improvement of health and safety through design, technology, product and system innovation and development
  • does not directly, or indirectly, inhibit investment in the development and adoption of improved technologies and products.
To ensure there are clear pathways for the consideration of innovations currently prevented by legislation or technical standards the policy provides for the submission of an innovation policy application. 

Further information and access to the policy and application form can be found on our website.
Innovation policy
Innovation policy application form

Investigating incident at Mt Arthur mine

On 18 January, the mine operator at Mt Arthur Coal Mine, in the Hunter Valley, notified us that a water cart had rolled over, resulting in the driver being temporarily trapped. The worker was assisted from the vehicle and did not appear to sustain any significant injuries.

Inspectors and investigators from the NSW Resources Regulator were deployed to the site to undertake an investigation.

The investigation is ongoing.

Flyrock moving through the air following the blast

Shotfiring incident at Albury Quarry

Flyrock from overburden struck three light vehicles which remained in an exclusion zone during blasting at a quarry. There were no injuries, however, workers and members of the public who were in the exclusion zone at the time of the incident were at risk of being seriously injured.

The incident occurred on 10 April 2018.
Investigation Information Release: Shotfiring incident at Albury Quarry
Audit of mining sites

During April and May 2017, three separate incidents of oil spill from transformers occurred at isolated and disused mine ventilation shaft sites within the Sydney drinking water catchment Special Areas. Each of these incidents resulted in a moderate or minor spill of oil on mining land which was reported to WaterNSW and EPA.

Following containment and remedial actions, monitoring and water sampling was undertaken to ensure risks to Sydney’s drinking water supply had been adequately addressed. This monitoring showed that the incidents posed minimal risk to water supplies.
WaterNSW facilitated meetings with Division of Resources and Geoscience, Resources Regulator, Department of Planning and Environment and the Environment Protection Authority, to develop and implement a joint agency audit program of priority mining infrastructure sites within the Special Areas.
These sites are often in isolated locations with no personnel on site and limited security measures. WaterNSW has identified these sites to be a potential source of pollution that present a considerable risk and liability if companies don’t remove these assets and appropriately rehabilitate sites. The Resources Regulator has the power to require this to occur under the Mining Act and conditions on leases.
For more information please download the following summary report:

Audit of mining sites within catchment special areas summary report
Further contact info:
Resources Regulator | Phone: 1300 814 609

Regional NSW, Resources Regulator
516 High St
Maitland, New South Wales 2320

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