Miners challenged to learn from the past at 2014 Health & Safety Conference

May 19, 2014

Hundreds of miners have held a minute’s silence in the Hunter Valley in memory of fallen colleagues in the NSW mining sector.
It has been a very challenging 12 months, with investigations continuing into three fatalities in NSW. Over 400 miners have gathered in the Hunter Valley for the 2014 NSW Mining Health and Safety Conference.
Addressing the conference, NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said that the event was an opportunity to reflect on the past for a safer future.
“The sad events in the Hunter over the last few months have put things into perspective for me. None of the work we do means anything if our people don’t come home from work safely,” he said.
“We have some great speakers here with us and this conference is the perfect place for us to come together and recommit ourselves to safety as our number one priority.”

NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee addressing the conference 
The conference brings together coal and metals miners. Northparkes Mines Managing Director and Chair of the NSW Minerals Council Health and Safety Committee, Stef Loader, challenged conference delegates to keep thinking about what they can learn from one another.
“There are many things that are common between coal and metals miners in NSW and there can be no question that there are things that we can learn from the past for a safer future. The more we can talk about what we've learned and can pass on, the better,” she said.
Stef talked about a fatal ‘airblast’ at Northparkes Mines in 1999 and the impact that it has had on the operation and the industry.
“This incident is 15 years ago, this year. And we’re still getting requests from other mines about what we know, what we’ve learned and the measures we’ve got in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I challenge you to think about how this scenario could apply to you. Look for the reasons that it could happen. We’re all miners, and we’ve all got a lot in common. Open your minds and think about what you can learn and after this conference we will be equipped to be a safer industry.”
Kylie ah Wong, from event sponsor Glencore, said that it was important that conference delegates take back these stories to their colleagues at site so that everyone in our industry can benefit.
“We need to make sure that these good ideas don’t end here,” she said.  
Kylie also spoke about a new approach to safety at a mine in the western coalfields of NSW. Development of Glencore’s Ulan West mine began in 2012 and more than 90 per cent of the workforce were “cleanskins”, or new to the industry. The first coal at Ulan West was produced on Friday, 16 May 2014 and the safety record has been low and improving as development has continued.

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