Tag Archives: Health and safety

Fiji gold mine awaits full audit report

Repeka Nasiko | The Fiji Times | April 25, 2017

VATUKOULA Gold Mine Ltd will wait on the outcome of the full audit carried out by the Department of Mineral Resources before deciding on the next course of action.

Company’s corporate services manager Dinny Laufenboeck said the company’s underground operations would remain closed until the audit was completed.

“Since all three incidents occurred in Vatukoula’s underground workings, the only competent authority to conduct an investigation and to whom all reporting is made, is the Mineral Resources Department,” she said.

“Work in the particular area (Smith Shaft) where the fatality occurred was suspended (and remains suspended). That is standard practice.

“Vatukoula’s underground workings are very extensive with outlying areas some kilometres away from where the fatality occurred and at varying depth.

“Since the subsequent two rock fall injuries occurred in another shaft (Philip Shaft), the MRD clearly deemed it timely to suspend operations mine wide and conduct an audit to determine what, if any, the contributory causes may have been.”

Ms Laufenboeck said the onus would also be on VGML on how it would satisfy the Mineral Resources Department audit team.

She said the Mineral Resources Department was the only authority licensed to inspect mines.

“Because the mining situation is dynamic, it is constantly changing and unlike a surface building which, once made safe, remains that way until something breaks or changes dramatically, we make the underground situation safe to work in but then make it unsafe by blasting with explosives to break the rock to produce gold and then make it safe again to bring out the rock.

“The Mineral Resources Department is the only authority with inspectors professionally trained for inspections in an underground environment,” she said.

Last week, Minister for Lands Faiyaz Koya suspended all underground operations at the mine pending a full audit of the company resulting in about 500 employees being sent home.

Mr Koya had said there was no set timeline on the audit.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiji, Human rights

Fiji worker injures head in mine shaft

Malakai Nabalarua (right) with his family at their home in Vatukoula. Picture: REINAL CHAND

See Also: Fiji: Mining Work Ceased, 500 Workers Sent Home

Repeka Nasiko | The Fiji Times | April 21, 2017

MALAKAI Nabalarua was underground in a Vatukoula Gold Mine mining shaft when a large rock hit his head.

Despite wearing head gear, the 23-year-old suffered serious head injuries.

The mineworker was the latest employee of the gold mining company to sustain serious injuries while working underground.

Speaking on behalf of her injured husband, Sereana Nasoko said the incident happened on Monday.

“The rock fell from the back hitting his helmet,” she said.

“He reacted immediately and moved forward to dodge it, but he hit another rock, injuring his face and jaw. There was a lot of blood on his head so they had to rush him to Lautoka.”

Ms Nasoko said the family was still shocked.

“He is still in a lot of pain. Every time he moves, there’s a sharp pain in his head and the rest of his body.”

She said her husband and his colleagues were currently at home waiting for a directive from the company or Government.

“Everyone was sent home and told that the mine would be closed for a while. We’ll just wait on what is decided by the company and Government after their investigation.”

Fiji Mine Workers Union president Jovesa Sadreu said the association welcomed the decision by Government to temporarily close all underground operations at the mine. Lands and Mineral Resources Minister Faiyaz Koya confirmed that underground operations at the mine had closed because the ministry was carrying out a full audit at the mine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiji, Human rights

Fiji: Mining Work Ceased, 500 Workers Sent Home

Fiji Sun | April 20, 2017

A recent death and a series of accidents have forced the closure of all underground operations at the Vatukoula Gold Mines.

The closure has seen about 500 underground workers sent home, pending the outcome of a safety audit.

A team of mine inspectors from the Department of Mineral Resources are conducting their investigations and checks of all shafts at the mines.

This was confirmed by the Director Mineral Resources, Raijieli Taga yesterday.

“Yes the closure is temporary and it is being done for safety reasons,” Ms Taga said.

She confirmed that a recent death and injuries to workers below the surface was the main contributing factor towards the temporary closure.

The latest death at the mines occurred on April 5 when a shaft supervisor was killed after two rocks, believed to have been loosened by an explosion, fell on him.

Tekiata Teuongo Teirei, 51, was believed to have died after the rocks crashed on his back, smashing his backbone and spinal cord.

He was on the afternoon shift, which was from 3pm – 11pm and was about to finish work, when the alleged incident happened at the Smith’s Shaft, which is about 1700ft below the surface.

Ms Taga said the mine inspectors were investigating the safety aspects of the mine and  the police were also included because of the death of Mr Teirei.

“I cannot confirm as to how long the investigations will take and what will happen after that,” she said.

“However, the findings of the mine inspectors will be tabled before a board of inquiry where a decision would be made.”

Ms Taga said all shafts would undergo the safety audit.

As for the underground workers being sent home, Ms Taga said she believed they would be on full salary.

From the era of the Emperor Gold Mines Ltd until the present day, it is believed that this was the first time that all underground operations were closed for a safety audit.

Queries through e-mail and phone calls to VGML’s Corporate Services manager, Dinny Laufenboeck, were unsuccessful.

1 Comment

Filed under Fiji, Human rights

Mine workers in Fiji not covered by Health and Safety laws

Mine workers in Fiji are not covered by Occupational Health and safety Laws

Mine workers in Fiji are not covered by Occupational Health and Safety Laws

Union: Miners not covered

Felix Chaudhary | The Fiji Times | November 26, 2016

THE mining sector is not covered under the country’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation, an issue that the Fiji Trades Union Congress is very concerned about.

FTUC national secretary Felix Anthony said miners had been promised they would have their own OHS laws since 2007, and yet, nothing had been done.

Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Minister Jone Usamate confirmed the mining industry was not covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1996.

Mr Usamate said the Act applied to all workplaces in Fiji except workplaces or operations connected with the Mining Act, Quarries Act, Explosives Act and Petroleum (Exploration and Exploitation) Act.

“The mining industry is not covered under the health and safety at Work Act as this law deals with health and safety in general whereas in mining, there are industry specific characteristics or risks that are specific to it,” he said.

“The competencies required for mine inspectorates are industry specific whilst OHS inspectors have general health and safety competencies and the mining industry operates under stringent risk management systems that are unique to the mining industry.

“I will look into this issue ensuring at all times that the best interests of Fiji as a whole are our priority.”

Mr Anthony said mine employees worked in a dangerous industry.

“The risk of injury and even death is extremely high and there are no OHS laws to govern their workplace,” he said.

“We are very concerned about the working condition of workers in the mining industry and call on the Government to look into the matter with urgency.”

1 Comment

Filed under Fiji, Human rights

Chief Inspector of Mines: Change legislations to benefit workers

mra

Franklin Kolma | Post Courier | September 8, 2016

Papua New Guinea’s foremost authority on mining standards says there is dire need for legislations that prioritise the health and safety of mine workers.

Papua New Guinea Mineral Resource Authority’s Chief Inspector of Mines Mr Lave Michael said this yesterday during the third annual National Health and Safety Symposium held at the Divine Word University in Madang Province.

Mr Michael told a host of experts and scholars at the university’s SVD Auditorium that workers needed to be brought back to the centre of legislative processes as current legislations were outdated and irrelevant and did not have the interests of mine workers at the forefront of operations.

The MRA head explained that mining was at the epicentre of the country’s economic endeavours accounting for 60 percent of our export earnings and that legislations had to be changed to ensure that the employees’ health and safety were given prominence.

“Currently, mining companies come in and may have good worker welfare or health and safety policies, but at the end of the day our legislations take precedence,” said Mr Michael.

“Because our legislations take precedence, mining companies abide by our legislations which are out of date, focusing more on procedural and prescriptive notions rather than actual risk management.”

The MRA Chief Inspector said that as such legislations have let our mine workers down resulting in many cases of serious bodily grievances contracted during mine employment, a few of which have been fatal.

He said that 32 workers employed in mineral extraction entities have reportedly suffered serious illnesses with two confirmed deaths as a direct result of hazardous mine related endeavours.

“It is high time we stop being concerned about the golden eggs like infrastructure and development and start taking an interest in the hens that produce these societally enhancing eggs,” said Mr Michael.

2 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

MCC to resume logging operations at Ramu mine

MCC to resume logging operations at Ramu mine

MCC to resume logging operations at Ramu mine

Post Courier | July 28,2016

Mineral Resources Authority has granted permission for Ramu NiCo to resume logging operations at its Kurumbukari mine site. The permission was issued by Inspector Joseph Umare last Monday following a visit to the mine and logging training sites after the  logging cessation order was imposed in August last year by the inspectorate following a fatality following the logging activity by a logging contractor.

Mr Umare in a letter presented to the registered mine manager and general manager of KBK mine Sarimu Kanu reads: “the matter has been examined in the light of what is stated in your submissions referred above along with assessments of training and competencies of your logging operators as well as the discussions held with you and your senior management team at your KBK Mine site.”

“The assurance and commitment given by you and your senior management team to take all necessary measures to ensure health and safety of all persons in your Logging Operation at KBK Mine, I hereby grant you permission to Resume Logging Operation at your KBK Mine.”

The permission was given with several conditions including the health and safety of logging crews and those who are engaged in the logging activity.

The logging permission follows immediately after the permission by the Inspectorate on Thursday, July 21, granting the company regular operation permission, permission for the restart and operation of HPAL (high pressure acid leach) Train Three at Basamuk refinery and the relaxation of cessation order of blasting of limestone at the Basamuk refinery quarry.

The SML8 land area allocated for mining activity at Kurumbukari in the Bundi LLG is mostly covered by natural forest and the permission by the Mines Inspectorate for logging now paves way for the company to clear the area without disruption.

The selected logs of economic value will be transported out of the mine site to a designated milling site by a contractor already engaged by the company.

Ramu nickel/cobalt project is the only mining company conducting logging activity apart from its approved mining permit for the benefit of the local landowners and the province given the economic value of the tree species.

Leave a comment

Filed under Papua New Guinea

“Serious unsafe and defective systems” at ‘World Class’ Ramu mine

basamuks

Chief Inspector of Mines found “serious unsafe and defective management systems” after a fatal accident

Basamuk mine [sic] set to re-open

Post Courier | June 30,2016

Ramu Nickel mine is set to re-commence operations at the Basamuk Refinery. This was announced by the Chief Inspector of Mines Lave Michael granting the permission pursuant to powers under the Mining (Safety) Act 1977.

Mr Michael explained that permission had been granted for the company to operate High Pressure Acid Leach  (HPAL) trains 1 and 2 only, while train 3 would still be closed as it was still under investigation. He said the permission was granted on June 28 on site, after the company satisfactorily met the Inspector’s rectification requirements on trains 1 and 2. Trains are process facilities where slurry from the mine is separated into different mineral products.

The permission comes after more than 11 weeks of cessation of operations, following a fatal incident on April 12 that resulted in the death of a Chinese national employee, and the serious injuries of two local employees. The company was ordered by the Mineral Resources Authority’s Mine Inspector, to cease operations following the incident.

The incident resulted from serious unsafe and defective management systems that were prevalent on the HPAL trains.

As part of the cessation order, Ramu Nickel was tasked to engage an internationally reputable third party investigator, to carry out a thorough investigation and provide a detailed report on the three trains. The report was submitted to the inspector on June 12 following which the inspector allowed the company to conduct remedial and repair works on the HPAL trains. Following this, inspectors visited the refinery on June 23 and conducted verification of the repair and remedial works which resulted in the granting of permission to operate HPAL trains 1 and 2.

The Chief Inspector stated that it is government’s expectation that all mines operating in PNG do so safely and observe their regulatory responsibilities.

Leave a comment

Filed under Papua New Guinea