New rules to cover all mining

MICHELLE COOKE
Last updated 16:08 12/12/2012

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A new regulatory framework will cover all mining in New Zealand instead of just underground coal mining, which was recommended in the aftermath of the Pike River tragedy.

The Government today released its action plan for implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Pike River Coal Mine, where an explosion occurred two years ago, killing 29 men.  

The commission issued its report, which was highly critical of the company's directors and executive managers, last month.

It said Pike River management paid insufficient attention to health and safety ''and exposed the company's workers to unacceptable risk'' in their drive to produce coal.

It also recommended sweeping changes after finding the Labour Department failed.

 The commission made 16 primary recommendations, including the need to urgently establish a regulatory framework for underground coal mining.

"The new regulatory framework will cover all mining in New Zealand - not just underground mining as recommended by the Royal Commission," acting Labour Minister Christopher Finlayson said today.

"The changes will also address the recommendations for worker participation in mining health and safety management, more detailed health and safety management responsibilities for company directors and statutory mine managers, management training and emergency management planning."

An Expert Reference Group on mining safety and regulation has been established to provide advice and independent scrutiny to the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry in developing a the regulatory framework.

The panel includes mining consultants, experts and Queensland's chief inspector of coal mines.

A decision on the form of the new independent regulator would take place early next year.

The Government said it would follow up on all 16 recommendations.

"We are working to put into effect as soon as practically possible the 16 recommendations of the Royal Commission aimed at addressing systemic failures in the health and safety regulatory regime," Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said.

"We owe it to the families of the victims of Pike River to ensure we follow through promptly on every recommendation the Royal Commission has made."

The Government hoped to have implemented all recommendations by the end of next year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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