Western Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) recently released a code of practice and guideline for ground control of WA mining operations.
Ground control involves the implementation of formal systematic strategies throughout the life of a mine to manage hazardous ground movements.
The Ground control for Western Australian mining operations code of practice is designed to outline the regulatory expectations for minimising workforce exposure to hazardous ground movements.
The provisions of the code applies to all mines (including sand mines, rock quarries, open pits, underground) as defined in section 4(1) of the MSI Act.
The Ground control management in Western Australian mining operations guideline is structured to support a risk management approach for geotechnical hazards in accordance with the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (MSI Act) and regulations, according to DMIRS.
The guideline provides further detail about control measures that mine operators can take to eliminate or mitigate hazards associated with unplanned ground movement.
It covers, among other things, the development, implementation and maintenance of a ground control management plan (GCMP) and related safe systems of work.
DMIRS Director of Mines Safety, Andrew Chaplyn, said the code is a practical guide to achieving the standards of occupational safety and health required under legislation.
“The Code will assist mine operators when considering geotechnical aspects in the safe design, construction, operation and closure of the mine workings for which they are responsible,” Chaplyn said.
“It’s important to remember that unsafe outcomes from unplanned ground control can cause injury or death, as falling loose rock, wall failure and cave-ins can strike, engulf or trap workers.
“Ineffective ground control can also impact a mine’s economic viability by damaging infrastructure, creating cost over runs and causing the dilution or loss of ore.”
The drafting and consultation process for the code, which started in 2014-15, included significant industry input, public feedback and comment from other regulators.
“The safety and health of mine workers continues to be a priority for DMIRS, and the ground control code and guideline build upon our recent initiatives such as FIFO mental health and diesel emissions,” said Chaplyn.