Safety more important than productivity, says BMA

THE BHP Mitsubishi Alliance has reiterated its commitment to safety amid claims it has made production a higher priority at its Queensland coal mines and as the state department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy makes moves to prosecute the company over a fatality at its Saraji mine.
Safety more important than productivity, says BMA  Safety more important than productivity, says BMA  Safety more important than productivity, says BMA  Safety more important than productivity, says BMA  Safety more important than productivity, says BMA

BHP's Saraji mine in Queensland.

Prior to the Saraji fatality there had been an earlier dozer related incident at BMA's nearby Peak Downs mine.

In that incident a dozer operator needed to be rescued after his machine became trapped in water.

That incident led to claims BMA was not prepared to de-water the mine because of the loss to production. 

A BMA spokesman told Australia's Mining Monthly that safety was the company's highest priority and it rejected any assertion that it put production before safety.

"The investigation into a non-fatal incident at the Peak Downs mine on July 9 2018 did not find that production was put before safety and it is wrong to assert otherwise," he said.

"Consistent with our commitment to continuously improving safety across the industry and the position we have taken on sharing all investigations openly, we provided the investigation findings to the Mines Inspectorate and shared them across all of our sites.

"The circumstances of the Peak Downs incident and Allan Houston's tragic death [at Saraji] were very different, as publicly stated by the Queensland Mines Inspectorate."

The DNRME has filed charges in the industrial magistrates' court against BMA and a company representative alleging breaches of statutory safety and health obligations resulting in the death of Houston.

BMA admitted it had more work to do on safety after dozer operator Houston died at Saraji on New Year's Eve in 2018.

The BMA spokesman said: "BMA has been named in proceedings lodged in Mackay in relation to Allan Houston's death at Saraji mine on December 31 2018.

"As these matters are before the courts, it is not appropriate for us to comment further."

An internal BMA company investigation failed to find a reason for the incident in which Houston's dozer went over the bench's crest and fell approximately 20m.

"Queensland Resources Safety and Health Regulator prosecutes when it is in the public interest and there is sufficient evidence that is capable of securing a conviction," a DNRME spokesman said in a statement.

This week Queensland mines minister Dr Anthony Lynham also tabled a bill in the Queensland parliament that could lead to mining executives being jailed for 20 years for manslaughter if it is found their negligence led to a fatality.