Middlemount disaster prompts Inspectorate warning on geotech risk

THE mine site senior executive should ensure sufficient geotechnical data for safe pit design and modelling is collected, analysed, interpreted and communicated, an alert from the Queensland Mines Inspectorate after an incident at the Middlemount coal mine in which an excavator operator was killed says.
Middlemount disaster prompts Inspectorate warning on geotech risk Middlemount disaster prompts Inspectorate warning on geotech risk Middlemount disaster prompts Inspectorate warning on geotech risk Middlemount disaster prompts Inspectorate warning on geotech risk Middlemount disaster prompts Inspectorate warning on geotech risk

The Middlemount mine site in Queensland.

The inspectorate said the SSE should also ensure the geotechnical risk management strategy included rockfall modelling to determine appropriate exclusion zones and those zones shoule be capable of containing any potential rockfall material.

 

"On Wednesday June 26 2019 at approximately 12.20pm, a 55-year-old coal mine worker was fatally injured while he was operating an excavator at an open cut coal mine in Queensland's Bowen Basin," the inspectorate said.

 

"The coal mine worker was operating an excavator when an adjacent pit wall approximately 40 metres high suddenly failed.

 

"This resulted in fallen material engulfing the excavator and partially crushing the excavator's cabin."

 

The inspectorate said while this incident involved an excavator conducting overburden removal, mines should consider geotechnical risk management during all activities conducted in open cut excavations.

 

"Ensure that a visual demarcation is placed along all exclusion zones," it said, suggesting the use of things such as an earth bund, witches' hats or fencing.

 

"Ensure a person with geotechnical competencies conducts scheduled geotechnical risk assessments of all pit walls in relation to stability.

 

"Review their current controls to ensure risk to persons from geotechnical hazards is within acceptable limits and as low as reasonably achievable."

 

The inspectorate also recommended reviewing current geotechnical monitoring programs and associated Trigger Action Response Plans to ensure they were adequate and effective.

 

"Ensure adequate training programs are in place to enable all personnel to receive appropriate and regular training in geotechnical hazard awareness, and have a clear understanding of the appropriate TARPs," it said.