AMSJ » MP angered over responses to mine safety
GOVERNMENT & LEGISLATION Queensland

MP angered over responses to mine safety

Dale Last Opposition Mine Safety / natural resources and mines Spokesperson Queensland

Mining companies, contractors and the mines regulators have been put on notice by Shadow Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Dale Last, following day two of the Ministerial Board of Inquiry into the explosion at the Grosvenor Coal Mine.

An angry Mr Last said, if the LNP was elected to government in October, that he, as Natural Resources and Mines Minister, would ensure everyone was on the same page when it came to safety in mines and quarries and issued a warning to those that failed to ensure workers were kept safe.

“I have said all along that the safety of workers must be the highest priority throughout the entire industry,” Mr Last said.  “If I take over the ministerial responsibility from Minister Lynham, and someone thinks they can flout the rules or bend them to their advantage, there will be dire consequences heading their way.”

“After just two days of hearings, it is blatantly clear that the safety system for Queensland mines and quarries is a dismal failure.  That is an allegation I made some time ago and now we have the proof.”

“Minister Lynham and Labor have failed when it comes to ensuring our mine and quarry workers go home safe every day.  That will change under an LNP government because people who do the wrong thing will be held to account, not just through the courts but when it comes to their ability to participate in the industry.”

minister lynham
Photo: @DrAnthonyLynham Twitter. Minister Lynham dressed for odd socks day to support Mental Illness

The damning evidence would make every miner’s family “sick to the stomach” according to Mr Last and the ex- Police Officer said if players in the industry didn’t step up he would gladly call on his 25 years in uniform to make changes.

“I became a cop because I wanted to keep people safe and I hated seeing people getting taken advantage of,” Mr Last said.  “The law is the law and it’s there to protect people, so if someone wants to break the law there needs to be serious consequences.”

“It makes my blood boil to see mine workers commenting that safety issues will be ‘swept under the carpet’ and almost accepting that the current system is ‘just the way it is’.”

“Workers are highlighting the fact that part of the problem is that inspections are announced.  I have called for an increase in unannounced inspections, but Labor has simply said no and that’s an insult to each and every worker.”

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“I speak to the families of mine incident victims quite often and I’ve given them my word that I will keep fighting for a safer industry and that’s not just a commitment; it’s an oath.  Mining is a dangerous industry, there’s no two ways about it, but everyone from mine owners to contractors and the regulator needs to pull their weight on making it as safe as is possible.”

“I don’t care which company it is the message is clear.  You will stick to the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law, or you can look forward to a very unpleasant meeting with the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines.”

“When it comes to the inspectorate and other regulators, I would expect their focus to be not just on inspections, but on improving the systems and whatever else is necessary to address these issues properly.  Notes on the back of a piece of paper and information that is impossible to find simply won’t be tolerated.”

“The Queensland government earns billions each year from mine and quarry royalties.  The government has a moral obligation to workers and their families to have the right resources and procedures to keep workers safe.”

“When a Minister is sworn in they take an oath to ‘well and truly serve the people of Queensland’ in that office.  It’s about time that our mines and quarry workers knew the Natural Resources and Mines Minister was there to serve them and do whatever is needed to help keep them safe.”

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3 Comments

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  • So this minister/cop will ensure safety on his beat by beating them up. This will take safety back to the the 1960’s. Or is he electioneering?

  • I find the passions expressed in the above article as very strange
    This event happened in 1994
    It cannot be very important if we are discussing this in 2020 some 26 years later
    If this is the speed of operation of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines,
    then I suggest the department needs a serious overhaul, and Ministerial Boards of Enquiry ?
    The statements made seem very obvious
    Of course it is a requirement that all mining operations comply with the relevant laws and acts,
    Any other suggestion is not appropriate.
    I have worked for BHP, FMG, MRM, Alcoa, etc
    I worked in Mining Companies for over 23 Years.
    In my personal experience the mining companies did comply with the Law.
    I have been involved in the investigation of people who died in mining accidents and mining incidents.
    In all the cases in which I was involved,it was the employee who did not comply with the regulations not the company.
    Regards
    Michael Shenton

  • very interesting, I see both sides of the arguments as posted, but hate the notion of Accident! its an incident and what caused it, what was done to prevent it, who is accountable for it as is and to inbuild a system of fail safe so it can never happen again.

    A simple question?

    How do regulators manage situations giving us the general population an assurance that we are safe!
    Why do I aske this question, well its based on past experiences of over 50 years in the workforce and of being a member of the general population for some 71 years, lets just say time!
    Time creates feelings, these can of course be one of wellbeing, disillusionment, rebellion or as in my current case questioning our wellbeing and what evidence supports that the nominated regulators have our best interests in front of them.

    Beirut
    I think this issue caused many across the World to sit up and take note, in my case it made me evaluate my local surround in relation to possible similar events.
    I live in close proximity to the Kwinana Industrial are just South of Perth in Western Australia, let’s say after a short review too close. Again, we have to draw on historic evidence and facts that the area and its facilities are like me ageing, a question I have is how are these ageing facilities managed. The responses are concerning -:
    • the plant was designed for X amount of throughput but we have successfully doubled production, yes this causes the occasional trip but the production manager knows best!
    • We have occasional issues but these are fixed in the long run
    • We employee subcontractors to oversee the supply line, they report every month, we review and give the go ahead to make the repair. I have seen on occasion when these repairs to critical infrastructure have still been open requests to repair at over a year from the original report?
    • Valve reports, when the operating manual states valve open, we noted valve closed? And VV.

    This is but a sample of my experiences on the job and at the location I mentioned earlier.
    Let’s look at what we have all being manufactured in close proximity to each other-:
    • Nitric Acid Plant
    • Ammonia Plant 78000 Tonnes per annuum production (Ammonium Nitrate)
    • PVC Resins
    • Sodium Cyanide
    • Sulfuric Acid
    • Motor Spirit, jet fuel, Ave gas (Contains lead), LPG, Diesel, feed stock, HF Hydrofluoric Acid.
    • Volumes of some 152,000 barrels per day are cited as throughput, in a plant that id 60 years old. The operators are located in a specially built room that is bomb proof, no windows very thick concrete walls and steel reinforced doors that are so thick and heavy they are power driven open or closed with an air lock seal as added protection for its occupants. The main offices are explosion proof windows, roof and doors.
    • Other close by operations include-: Coogee Chemicals making bulk industrial chemicals, Fuel Distributors, who store and deliver the fuel for the local fuel stations around Perth’s CBD and beyond, TOC, Lithium Hydroxide producers, Tronox employing some rather hazardous chemicals( so that all persons on site must carry a self rescuer,( being a system for breathing in case of disaster) BHP, formally Western Mining Nickel Processing facility This plant utilizes PRILL and H2s in its processes. Alcoa manufacturing Bauxite again utilizing some very strong chemical agents in vast quantities and last of the majors Cockburn Cement, we only need to look at international reports on what has transpired in other countries with the manufacture of cement!
    So my question is how are the regulators managing these facilities and giving an assurance to the general public that we are safe, the question is how safe.
    The other point of concern is that Garden Island is just across the water, literally this is an Australian Navy Marine Facility, first cab off the rank should war break out as a point of attack for an enemy. What impact could this have on the above-mentioned manufacturing facilities in turn on the people of Perth?

    No it could never happen! -: West Texas 2013 Ammonium Nitrate explodes, Beirut 2020 Ammonium Nitrate destroys half of the city the whole of the port facility leaves 250 000 without a home.
    o The issue of West Texas recorded 19 recommendations, of these to date 7 are closed and 12 remain open, WHY. Its now 2020, the event and recommendations were in 2013
    o Husky Energy refinery explosion 2018
    o Midland Resources Tank Explosion 2019
    o Du Pont Chemical release 2019
    o Pascagoula Gas plant Explosion 2019
    o Exxon Refinery Fire 2017
    o Delaware Refining Co Alkylation unit release 2017
    o Exxon Refinery Torrance explosion 2017
    o BP Deep Water Horizon 2010
    o BP Buncefield 2005
    o BP Texas City 2005 failure of Safety management Systems cited as the cause
    o Alpha Piper 1988 167 deaths
    o Flixborough UK 1974
    o Bhopal India 1984 Union Carbide
    o Chernobyl 1986
    o Esso Longford 1989 UK
    o Jilin 2005 PRC
    o AZF 2001 France (Ammonium Nitrate) 1.5 billion EU in insurance cost!

    And we are in the process of constructing another Major Hazard Facility in the same area, being a Puma fuel storage yard ( Puma Australia now) Chevron!
    Chevron are currently playing down an issue with the Gorgon processing facility, major cracking in gas trains at its barrow island facility. The Unions brought this to the attention of the regulator in order to have the issue rectified, initially Chevron played down any risk?.
    The regulator is now investigating, dare I say after the event its not a proactive approach that I would wish for.
    We are short staffed, we are not meeting deadlines, we were not aware, the experts tell us, it was an oversight are all not good enough responses to the ongoing issue of death, destruction and ongoing illness of sometimes innocent bystanders or residents of local communities.

AMSJ Winter 2020