Quarry operators may be in for an unwelcome surprise when the
Government introduces tougher health and safety regulations for the
mining industry later this year.
While the Pike Royal Commission focused on only underground coal
mining, the new (more onerous) regime will extend into not only all
mining - underground and opencast, coal and metalliferous and any
tunnels under construction - but also into some quarries.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has
recently released its proposals for changing the regulatory regime
for mining, which will implement the recommendations made by the
Pike River Royal Commission of Inquiry.
The proposals are out for public submission until 1 July and are
to be introduced by December this year. Existing operations are
given a transitional period of 12 months to comply or operators can
seek a longer exemption (up to 36 months) from the Chief Inspector
The changes will result in amendments to the Health & Safety
in Employment Act, new mining regulations and codes of practice and
will set stronger minimum standards in key areas. In summary, the
Broadening the Royal Commission's recommendations
concerning underground coal mines, to cover all types of mining as
well as tunnels and some quarries.
A new regulatory approach for mining, requiring processes for
hazard management in mining operations.
Strengthened training and competency requirements for safety
critical roles in the mining industry.
Increased worker participation in health and safety in mining
Improvements in emergency preparedness by mining operations and
in the provision of mines rescue services and emergency management
The first of these changes will be of particular concern for
quarry operators, as MBIE is proposing that certain "in
scope" quarries will need to comply with the new regime.
An "in scope" quarry is any operation that meets two
or more of the following criteria, or that the regulator wants to
be brought within the new regime:
A quarry where four or more mine workers ordinarily work at any
one time ("mine worker" covers any person, whether
employee or subcontractor) who is involved in mining related
activities but not in ancillary activities such as
Quarry faces of more than 3.5 metres (from the lowest to
Ground conditions where risk of failure or subsidence is likely
to endanger places where people may be present or ground movement
is likely to harm or kill anyone.
" Commercial operations producing more than 100,000 tonnes
Quarries that are not "in scope" will continue to be
governed by the general health and safety regime, like all other
places of work.
In its recent consultation meeting in Christchurch, MBIE
stressed its desire for industry submissions on all areas of the
regime, but particularly on this issue of scope. It specifically
asked that submitters provide views on where the line should be for
"in scope" quarries that will be within the new regime
and, if possible, objective criteria to define that line.
MBIE has attempted to formulate objective and clear rules to
determine which quarries fall within the new regime - hence the
above checklist. It originally estimated that approximately 20
quarries would be covered. But feedback to date shows that this was
a "massive underestimate" and that hundreds of quarries
could be covered, which was not its intention.
We strongly recommend that any quarry operators who believe that
their operations would be caught by the new regime should prepare a
submission to MBIE, particularly on where the line for "in
scope" operations should lie.
We have set out some examples of how the MERCP Act impacts resource exploration and production, and what you need to do.
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