Federal and State Budgets Overlook Incentives to Alter Bad Mining Practices

Thursday, 15 May 2014

The federal government’s decision to rule out cuts to the diesel fuel rebate in the upcoming federal budget is a disincentive for miners to alter bad practices, according to Greens Member for the Mining and Pastoral Region Robin Chapple MLC.

Mr Chapple says the presence of diesel particulates is extremely detrimental to the health of miners working underground.

“Underground miners are already subject to a plethora of risks,” he said.

“The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has publicised recently through the World Health Organisation (WHO) that miners exposed to diesel fumes are found to have a significantly increased risk of death from lung cancer.

“Furthermore, a recent study in Resources Safety Matters vol. 2 no. 1 January 2014 of 29 goldfields mines found that diesel particulate exposure at 10 of these sites exceeded the accepted standards.”

Mr Chapple said governments should be looking at ways to reduce the use of diesel as a primary fuel source in underground mining operations rather than maintaining its commercial viability.

“The diesel fuel rebate provides big miners with an incentive to keep using diesel – it’s essentially paying them to do it,” he said.

“We need to be doing the opposite. We need to incentivise big miners to transition towards better mining practices at least for the safety of their workers, if nothing else.”

Mr Chapple pointed out that there are other commercially viable technologies available for reducing diesel emissions in underground mines that are not being utilised.

“Underground electric monorails have been utilised to great effect in South Africa since the late 90s as a response to rising diesel prices,” he said.

“The study I mentioned earlier has also shown mine sites that committed to using diesel particulate filters on all underground machinery had the lowest exposure data across the board.

There appears to be no funding either in the state budget to progress the findings of their recent study or to deal with the health aspects of diesel emissions underground.

“We need to be pushing for the implementation of technologies such as these whilst simultaneously stripping back current fuel exemptions to this industry.”

For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

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