Mining company fined $20K for charges relating to secure storage of explosives

A mining company has been fined $ 20,000 in Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to four charges related to storing explosives securely.

Two years ago, on May 5, 2015, WA Police discovered the theft of 100kg of explosives at the Higginsville gold operation near Norseman in the Goldfields.

An investigation conducted by the Department of Mines and Petroleum found several failures regarding secure storage of explosives.

“While the company did make some efforts to comply with regulations, given the high risks to the community associated with explosives, any failures in the systems used to keep explosives secure should be considered as particularly serious,” said DMP Chief Dangerous Goods Officer Ross Stidolph.

“The department’s investigation found that inventory records did not accurately account for explosives moving in and out of the explosives storage facility.

“Companies with an explosives licence need to conduct regular stocktakes and ensure they adequately investigate any discrepancies with their inventory.”

Magistrate Sandra de Maio said security of explosives is dependent on the rigorous application of measures and actions that together serve to create a system of checks and balances that allow for the timely detection of an unexplained loss of explosives.

DMP says that despite records showing discrepancies between recorded quantities of explosives and actual quantities of explosives stored, these discrepancies were not investigated by Avoca Mining.

“Avoca did note ensure that all measures necessary for an effective security system were satisfactorily implemented and maintained,” said Mr. Stidolph.

“While the root cause of the theft of the explosives was the illegal conduct of a trusted employee, it is important to emphasise that industries engaged in the possession and use of explosives need to have appropriate controls and procedures in place to ensure explosives are secure from sabotage, theft, unexplained loss and unathorised access.

“An explosives storage licensee is responsible for the security and safety of the explosives. These responsibilities cannot be delegated or transferred to suncontractors.

“Failure to have appropriate controls and procedures in place can result not only in significant financial penalties but also put the safety of the community at risk should those explosives end up in the wrong hands.”

The court took into account the company’s early guilty plea, no previous convictions and cooperation with investigators in handing down the penalty.

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