The mines beat off competition from Rio’s vast operations around the world which cover aluminium, copper, diamonds, energy products, gold, industrial minerals and iron ore.
Hail Creek, near Mackay, won the Chief Executive Safety Award for 2010.
Rio said the award recognised sites for safety performance with a focus on innovative safety systems, effective communication and a strong safety culture over the past two years.
The Blair Athol mine, near Clermont, received two Chief Executive Safety Awards for the most improved sites in Rio’s portfolio of mines in 2008 and 2009.
Rio chief executive Tom Albanese discussed some of the merits of the safety culture at Hail Creek.
“These include the visible and passionate commitment of the team to develop a sustainable safety culture in which employees actively participate, and an overwhelming attitude amongst employees and contractors that all work can, and will be, done safely,” Albanese said.
“The presence of world-class performers within the group is very important in highlighting that excellent safety performance is achievable in the mining industry and is independent of local culture, economic conditions and past practices.”
Hail Creek general manager of operations Andrew Woodley thanked the mine’s 680 permanent workers and 200 contractors for their efforts to improve safety standards.
“Well done to the team at Hail Creek – this is a significant award within the Rio Tinto Group and is well-deserved recognition for the commitment of the team at Hail Creek to working safely,” he said.
“This award provides us with an even greater challenge – to not only maintain this standard, but to continue to seek more opportunities to improve safety across site and keep up the momentum towards our goal of zero injuries.
“Excellent safety performance only comes about when the workforce holds safety as a core value.”
Rio general manager operations for the Clermont region Andrew Cole said Blair Athol’s win was a tremendous achievement.
“Let us use this award and past good performances of both the Blair Athol and Clermont sites as encouragement to further reduce incidents by improving our safety processes and culture as we strive to deliver zero harm,” Cole said.
Rio’s new Clermont open cut mine will eventually replace the output of the Blair Athol mine, due for closure in 2016, but will use its stockpile and load-out facilities to rail out the coal.