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Reflections on the 26th World Mining Congress

04 July 2023

Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health Kate du Preez's reflections on the discussions at the 26th World Mining Congress which was held in Brisbane from Monday 26 June to Thursday 29 June.

Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health at World Mining Congress 2023

At the conclusion of the 26th World Mining Congress, I was remined how enormously important the resources industry is to not only Queensland but to Australia and the world.

The conversations throughout the World Mining Congress, particularly during the Health, Safety and Wellbeing concurrent sessions, highlighted the importance of continued collaboration, innovation and development of research-based solutions between resources industry operations, universities and other organisations involved in safety and health.

I was honoured to be invited to chair a session in the Health, Safety and Wellbeing stream, and to be involved in collaborative discussions with industry and academic experts, focussing on risk management and controls.

Dame Judith Hackitt delivered an insightful presentation on resilience and risk management and how the industry can prepare for the unexpected and unpredictable risks.

Her presentation opened a vital conversation about whether, in light of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the solutions we have on hand to manage and mitigate risk are fit for purpose in an increasingly interconnected and complex world.

Dame Judith questioned whether we should be building resilience in our organisations rather than risk management to deal with both foreseen and unforeseen risk.

Suzy Retallack outlined the evolution of critical control verifications and audits at Newmont to incorporate human performance principles to its fatality risk management systems.

Newmont identified that critical control verification had become a learned process and felt the process was becoming rote, did not effectively engage participants and lacked depth in identifying gaps in the work being undertaken.

Its refreshed approach provided new supervisors and managers the knowledge to complete critical control verification focusing on both technical detail and safety interaction principles highlighting the importance of the social process, improving overall safety performance.

Other presentations included:

  • Dr Paul Amyotte’s fascinating presentation on risk management in high hazard industries and how many of the risk management concepts and protocols employed to good effect in the chemical process industries find similar application in enhancing health, safety, and wellbeing in mining operations.
  • Ben Seligmann’s discussion on causal networks as a new approach to address inherent problems with risk management practice in mining organisations.
  • Rhys Patterson’s outline of the risks of wireless blasting and the requirements for a safe and reliable wireless blasting system.
  • Alton Bester’s description of the development and implementation of a berm monitoring system at Kumba Iron Ore to ensure accurate measurement of waste dump safety berms on a near real-time basis.

More broadly, the congress also highlighted how mining operations are rapidly adopting artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and remote operations technology to modernise their operations and reduce risk.

One value of automation and remote operations technology that is often overlooked is the potential for these technologies to allow the mining industry to attract the next generation of mine workers to solve future resourcing challenges.

This challenge was highlighted throughout the conference with a great deal of discussion about how the resources industry is already experiencing skill shortages and the need to develop the talent to meet future demand.

I look forward to carrying on these conversations.

Kate du Preez
Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health

World Mining Congress 2023 health safety and wellbeing panel

World Mining Congress Rio Tinto exhibit

Last updated: 04 Jul 2023