Tag Archives: mine safety

Goldmine tragedy in Fiji

An aerial view of the Vatukoula Gold Mine outside Tavua.

An aerial view of the Vatukoula Gold Mine outside Tavua. Picture: VGML

Repeka Nasiko | Fiji Times | 3 January, 2019

A 47-year-old Chinese national died instantly after rocks fell on his head at a Vatukoula Gold Mine Ltd shaft last weekend.

Police Intelligence and Investigation chief ACP Vakacegu Toduadua said the accident occurred at the mining company’s Dolphin Shaft early Saturday, December 29, 2018.

“A rock fell on the head of a 47-year-old Chinese national who died instantly at the scene while a second 48-year-old Chinese national received injuries,” he said.

“Both were taken to Lautoka Hospital. “A post-mortem (examination) of the deceased has been completed and we have yet to receive the report from the Mineral Resources Department mine inspectors to ascertain the negligence part of the management.”

Meanwhile, Mineral Resources Department acting director Apete Soro said their officials were alerted of the fatal accident last Saturday.

“The ministry through the Mineral Resources Department was informed around 1:15 am of the accident which occurred an hour earlier,” he said.

“A team from the department, which included the manager of the mining division who is a mine engineer and his assistant, were mobilised to Vatukoula the same night and confirmed upon arrival that one male fatality and another male was admitted to Tavua Hospital.

“The latter was later transferred to Lautoka Hospital, but has since been discharged.”

He said an investigation by the department was in progress.

“The team are currently undertaking preliminary investigation which will then lead to the Board of Inquiry under the discretion of the Director of Mines.”

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Chief Inspector of Mines: Change legislations to benefit workers


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.


Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Rock fall at Papua New Guinea mine claims life of Ok Tedi worker

ok tedi

Eric Tlozek | ABC News

A man has died at Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi mine, forcing operations to be suspended less than two weeks after they were restarted.

The gold and copper mine — the largest in the country — resumed operations on March 1 after slashing its workforce and halting production in July due to weak copper prices and dry weather connected to Papua New Guinea’s El Nino-related drought.

Ok Tedi Mining Limited said the worker was caught in debris from a rock fall on the mine’s western wall.

“A section of rock and dirt fell out of the wall of the mine and landed in the sump, which is located at the bottom of the mine,” managing director Peter Graham said.

“Unfortunately one of our employees, who was attending to pit drainage … was unable to get clear of the debris that flowed as a result of that fall.”

The mine’s management was unable to retrieve the man’s body before dark. Recovery efforts resumed this morning.

Mr Graham said the mine had been shut down to allow employees to deal with the worker’s death.

“We shut down operations last night for the oncoming night shift crew and just told everyone to stand down today,” he said.

“The primary reason for doing that is to respect our lost workmate.”

The company said PNG authorities had been notified of the man’s death.

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Ok Tedi shut down after landslide traps three workers


Ok Tedi closed after landslide traps three men

Jeffrey Elapa | Post Courier | March 11 2016

THREE Papua New Guineans are said to be trapped in a landslide at the Ok Tedi mine that forced all operation to be suspended.

Sources from the mine told the Post Courier late last night that heavy rain in the area for two days has caused huge landslide burying three employees together with the ONK the machine that is used to shovel rocks and minerals.

Although no reports have been received from the mine management, sources said all operations closed as of 5pm after the incident that took place an hour before the landslide in the centre of the mine where A grade reserves are usually mine.

The sources said the rescue team were attempts to recover the bodies of the three employees believed to be strapped among the collapsed ground and rocks but it is not known if they are alive or dead as rescue work was continuing.

The closure has also forced the operation at Kiunga where the ores are stored before shipment.

The Ok Tedi mine is an open mine and the condition of the three employees are confirmed but the management would make an official report on the incident as rescue team continues to find the bodies.

The source said operations like the Semi-Automatic Operation Grinding machine one at the processing plant has been forced shut while another one is undergoing maintenance which should be commissioned soon.

The Semi-Automatic Operation grilling machine that is used by driller at the mine while other important facilities like the major mill was also shut down.

However it is believed that all operation will be suspended for an indefinite period but the management would make a formal announcement later this week.

The source further stated that a similar incident caused the open pit mine where high grade gold is mine was covered with debris even before the mine shut in 2015.

The incident happened only 1o days after the mine was reopened after being closed for almost 7 months as a result of the drought that affected the Fly River water level to drop.

The mine is owned by the Government after taking over from BHP who left to avoid damages claim after the Fly River system was polluted.

The management is expected to make an official statement in relation to the incident today.

The management were unable to be contacted for further comments.

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A year to forget for BHP as deaths mount

An electricity worker attempts to cross a flooded area in Barra Longa after a dam burst on Thursday in Minas Gerais state, Brazil, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. Brazilian searchers are looking for 23 people still listed as missing following the burst of two dams at an iron ore mine in a southeastern mountainous area. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

BHP Billiton has assured cost cutting won’t affect future safety following the Brazil mine disaster. (AAP)

The world’s biggest mining company BHP Billiton has given assurances that cost cutting won’t affect future safety as the death toll mounts in Brazil.


It’s a year that BHP Billiton would rather forget.Lives have been lost, a village has been wiped out and shares in the world’s biggest miner are at 10-year lows.

As the death toll from the Brazilian mine disaster reached at least 10 this week, BHP executives tried to provide some insight into the tragedy which has disrupted the lives of thousands of people and covered their region in mine waste and mud.

A dam burst at the Samarco iron ore mine in Mariana a fortnight ago, unleashing a torrent of muck onto the nearby village of Bento Rodrigues and contaminating drinking water in the region.

In addition to the mounting death toll in Brazil, where eight people remain missing, five BHP employees have lost their lives during the 2015 financial year worldwide.

The death toll has weighed heavily on the executives who have apologised repeatedly in recent weeks.

While weaker commodities prices have forced BHP to slash costs in recent years, the company’s chief executive Andrew MacKenzie gave assurances on Thursday that cost reductions would not affect safety into the future following the Samarco disaster.

Mr Mackenzie told reporters that BHP aimed to ensure its tens of thousands of employees always chose safety over productivity.

“I strongly believe that the way we simplify and make this company more efficient, it actually enhances safety, enhances the health of our workforce,” he said.

Chairman Jac Nasser said the drivers of good safety were also the drivers of good productivity.

“There should not be a trade-off,” he said.

But environmental groups say BHP hasn’t learned from previous tailings dams failures such as the Ok Tedi environmental disaster in Papua New Guinea (PNG) which destroyed villages and disrupted the lives of thousands.

Mr Mackenzie said BHP had created a fund for the clean-up and development in PNG, and it added that it intended to continue its Samarco business.

“There should be no doubt that our desire is to get it back to being a good business again and we are committed very much to the long term,” Mr Mackenzie said.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the company’s shares had lost around a third of their value this year and were just off ten year lows.

“It’s been a tough year,” Mr McCarthy said.

But he said low commodities prices and a potential change to the company’s dividend policy were now factored in to the company’s share price.

Shares in the company closed eight cents higher at $20.50.

Analysts estimate the Brazilian disaster will cost BHP around $1.2 billion over three years.

Still, no one is sure whether the affected areas can be rehabilitated and rebuilt.

One of Brazil’s major river systems, Rio Dolce, remains at risk as the mine waste continues to flow towards the Atlantic Ocean, destroying crops and killing fish.

BHP Billiton plans to publicly release the findings of an external investigation into the Samarco disaster.

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