Union calls for safety audit of Australian mining industry
A central Queensland mine is in the process of a major clean up after a massive storm flattened a workshop and a large shed - prompting calls from the mining union for a safety audit of all structures on mine sites.
Buildings at BHP’s Peak Downs mine were destroyed after a wild storm tore through the Bowen Basin on November 13. As a result of the damage, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union says a rethink is needed on the way buildings and structures are rated for safety and wind speeds.
"The only shining light out of this was no-one was injured, which is great," says CFMEU’s Steve Smythe.
"Our safety reps were out there yesterday having a look around, but certainly there's going to have to be a rethink not just of Peak Downs but across the industry with storm season on the way,” he adds, pointing out that mining companies and their contractors have been erecting flimsy structures, akin to what someone would build in their backyard – but on a much larger scale.
"Companies and contractors have gone and put these in place as a stop-gap measure but, as with anything, they end up staying there as a full-time structure for trucks and people to work in and under," he says.
Smythe states that while mining companies make their own audits to ensure such structures were installed to an adequate standard of safety, the Mining Department should also carry out inspections to ensure workplace safety, and to distribute safety information to all mines.
"A couple of years ago we had dongas, or crib rooms, which turned over in storms at the Jelinbah Mine, which resulted in people being caught in the crib rooms," he points out, adding that, "People are aware of this and normally tie them down, but there needs to be a more concerted effort done to ensure they are secure and people will not be put at risk."
BHP says that a clean-up is underway and that its safety systems in place meant that people were prepared, which resulted in no one being injured and operations not being disrupted. It adds that operations on the Peak Downs mine are ramping back up.
The Peak Downs mine is a large open cut coking coal mine in Queensland, located 31 kilometres South-Southeast of the town of Moranbah.
It is one of seven mines in the Bowen Basin owned by the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance, Australia’s largest coal miner and exporter. It also owns and operates the Hay Point Coal Terminal near Mackay.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.