Throughout the 2016/2017 financial year, the NSW Resources Regulator conducted an assessment of each underground metalliferous operation across the state to assess how each operation managed the principal mining hazard of ground and strata control. The assessment considered all aspects of the mining process, including all aspects of managing geotechnical risk within drawpoints. This assessment is ongoing and, therefore, this paper is limited to the first six mines assessed in the program.
In 2015 there were three fatalities in and around underground drawpoints in Australian metalliferous mines. Whilst many of the systems of work around underground development are consistent across the industry, there are large discrepancies around how each underground mining operation manage the risks associated with drawpoints.
For drawpoints to be effectively managed, their management needs to be considered at the earliest stages of the mine planning process. By using downholes and adopting remote systems of work – systems that are continuing to improve with technology – the risks drawpoints posed can be greatly reduced.
The assessment by the NSW Resources Regulator revealed a number of common failings across the state in the management of the risks that drawpoints pose. The assessment also observed a number of innovative practices that particular operations have adopted in the wake of serious incidents occurring within drawpoints at their operation; however, these practices have not been communicated to other operations.
It is hoped the learnings from the assessment can be considered by industry and reduce the risks drawpoints pose in underground metalliferous mines.
Hill, X, 2017. Learnings from review of drawpoint management across New South Wales mines, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 143–150 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).