LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
ARE WE STUCK?
The challenges of keeping mine workers safe and the environment protected in high-risk environments remains one of the greatest challenges of the Australian, and indeed the global mining industry.
Not only is keeping mines safe, healthy and environmentally friendly a challenge for miners. It also remains one of the key issues for governments in controlling risks and impacts on communities across the globe.
In the past month our team at the Australasian Mine Safety Journal, have observed that the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) has released a new Guidance for Governments: Environmental Management and Mining Governance.
Alec Crawford, a Senior Policy Advisor with the IGF recently said “Governments have an important role to play when it comes to managing water resources, protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, storing mine waste, and preparing for and responding to emergencies.”
Managing important aspects of cultural heritage, water, biodiversity, waste, emergency preparedness will no doubt remain with us for some time given our recent history.
But one must wonder if all the efforts of the industry to improve, including the recent departures of Rio Tinto’s Jean-Sébastien Jacques, head of iron ore Chris Salisbury, and corporate affairs chief Simone Niven (over the ill-fated destruction of a 46,000-year-old archaeological and sacred site in Western Australia’s Pilbara) will herald a move to improve the status quo?
Some say it’s a reactive approach yet again from an industry that should know better. Over the past years in health, safety, and environment we seem to move from catastrophic event followed by periods of intense activity to lulls in activity eventually followed by another catastrophic event.
Is the mining industry and those who govern it like a heart in stuck in a sinus rhythm that sees intense reactions in response to incidents followed by periods of inactivity/inattentiveness followed by a further reaction as other disasters occur? Are we really getting the controls right when we keep making disastrous mistakes that affect the lives of miners, their families, and the environment?
Queensland LNP Member of Parliament Warren Entsch speaking following the parliamentary inquiry into the cultural heritage destruction event in WA said “It is hard to argue that we have not been misled by Rio Tinto’s evidence to the inquiry when you look at what was said together with the documents the company has provided on notice.”
“It is a profound statement to say that senior executives did not know when the company has been aware since the early 00s of the significance of the caves “he said.
Like Mr Entsch I believe that there’s something profound about why these errors, poor judgements or miscalculations keep occurring within mining… but it is one that all who work or rely on the industry must consider.
Our trajectory should be one that moves upwards in performance rather than one that appears reactive like an ECG rhythm.
Our goal at AMSJ in to ensure that we provide information that contributes to the betterment of industry knowledge. We provide daily information on incidents and events that are shaping the industry. We do this through the generous support of our sponsors who constantly encourage us to do more.
We hope and trust that you can learn from our editions and share these across the industry such that we don’t follow the pattern from disaster to disaster, from injury to injury or from illness to illness.
In this edition we have some featured articles about the mining environment and what some of the recent better practices have been to improve sustainability of the industry. Against the backdrop of disastrous events and bad news, there are many better practices that are breaking new ground! We hope you enjoy it and share it like crazy.
Of course, we’d always love to hear your feedback and welcome anyway we can improve the journal or contribute to it. Email me at email@example.com with your thoughts and articles.
All the best.
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