AMSJ » Safety breach suspends $640m metal mine in NWQ

Safety breach suspends $640m metal mine in NWQ


A Queensland metal producer has made a shock decision to terminate its managing director amid a health and safety breach at its $640 million mine in northwest Queensland.

Cudeco’s Board recently brought forward the resignation date of Dr Dianmin Chen to February 21, soon after the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) ordered the company to suspend operations at the Rocklands Copper Mine, 15km west of Cloncurry.

The suspension came after a desktop audit on CuDeco’s safety and health management system found it did not support current activities, personnel and processes associated with the site, meaning it failed meet the requirements of a safety and health management system under the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999.

DNRM inspectors also reviewed the site’s risk assessment practices and determined the site of the project had inadequately reviewed current risks associated with the activities being undertaken, and the site wide risk assessment was out-of-date with the last review undertaken in late 2015.

Cudeco responded to the order by stopping its Rocklands operations. However, the company is allowed to continue loading concentrate that is onsite, and to operate plant and equipment that is set up keep the site safe.

The Crushing Plant will remain closed for scheduled maintenance, which will continue. Mobilisation of the mining fleet can also begin during the suspension period.

Cudeco now has to make an updated safety and health management system submission to DNRM about the company’s current operations.

“The health and safety of our workforce is our number one priority. We will endeavour to address this issue as quickly as possible for the benefit of all our employees and contractors, and ultimately, shareholders,” CuDeco’s newly appointed interim chairman, Peter Hutchison says.

Joseph Skrypnuik will continue to be acting general manager of the project.

Despite the suspension,  the company is still hiring for a small number of roles, including an instrumentation technician, plant shift operator, site training advisor and payroll admin officer.

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Once a contractor has come on board, the project is expected to employ 280 workers plus an additional 120 operational staff when complete.

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AMSJ April 2022