New mine safety laws to tackle incompetent managers

INCOMPETENT mine managers would be given the boot, a new safety representative appointed and better safety regulations put in place as the Queensland Government flags changes to mine safety laws.

Calculations done by the Department of Mines suggest the suite of adjustments would cost the mining industry $5.6 million a year.

According to the department, it amounts to about nine cents for every tonne of resources pulled from the ground.

The lion's share of that cost will go to developing explosion barriers and mitigating the threat of potentially explosive coal dust.

The proposals are outlined in a paper to be released on Wednesday, with industry, unions and others given 60 days to comment.

Suggestions in this "regulatory impact statement" remain in flux, to be moulded by submissions made in the next two months.

Although Queensland's mine safety credentials are considered to lead the world, the amendments will help keep Queensland in line with Australia's other top mining states, Western Australia and New South Wales.

Some changes come as lessons were learned from New Zealand's Pike River Mine disaster which killed 29 in 2010.

Once approved, a new coal industry safety and health representative will be employed, increasing the number from three to four.

Clunky legislation which has led to mine staff and contractors being put under different safety regimes will be altered so all are covered by the same regulations.

Mine managers or "site senior executives" will by law be forced to pass stringent examinations before they can take on the role.

For those without the proper qualifications already in those roles, they may need to be replaced.

Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said the goal was to have all 40,000 workers in the state's mining industry returning home safe after a shift.

"It's time that Queensland's mining community looked at the legislation we now have, understanding where we have come from, and determine whether we have the best system to protect Queensland mine workers."

The legislation is expected to be finalised in the first half of next year.



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