The Queensland Mines Inspectorate yesterday issued a safety bulletin as a reminder to all mine operators, site senior executives, contractors and service providers to consider the hazards created by the recent rains while attempting to restore operations.
The inspectorate said there was increased likelihood of pit wall instability, ingress lubrication of joint fault planes, and undercutting as surrounding areas are soaked and groundwater tables are recharged, possibly at some distance from the operation.
Ramp and road instability may also be present and the inspectorate said when rebuilding mine roads and other infrastructure, mobile equipment hazards including damaged bunds, undercutting, washouts, loss of traction and soft edges must be addressed.
When re-establishing water management infrastructure, pumping and working near the water's edge personnel and equipment hazards need to be addressed. Work that should be assessed includes setting up pumping stations, reinstating drains, sumps, suction and discharge lines, pontoons, restoring fuel and electrical supplies.
The inspectorate said prior to the recovery of equipment, safe working loads must be established. It added only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) approved recovery points are to be used; so-called "vehicle tie down points" must not be used as they can fail and hazards due to mobile equipment water ingress, including into braking and electrical systems, and vehicle batteries, must be addressed.
Stability of waste dumps, stockpiling areas, sedimentation ponds and dams must be established prior to reopening and use.
The inspectorate advised electrical work to reinstate infrastructure and systems must address hazards which include water ingress into switchgear, degradation of materials, mechanical damage due to submersion, residue on contacts, damage/destruction of drawings and plans, possible damage to fire alarms and other emergency systems, overhead powerline stability, and earth leakage and other electrical protection in switchrooms, lighting plant, portable generators, welding equipment and pumping equipment.
Lastly, location of "sleeping shots" and exclusion zones must be established prior to work commencing in the area.