Gold mining company fined $140,000 following worker's death

Dangers of rockfall well known and adequate ground control critical
Date: Friday, 02 March 2018

Central Norseman Gold Corporation has been fined $140,000 in the Perth Magistrates Court following the death of a worker at the company’s Harlequin gold mine, near Norseman, in 2014.

Machine Operator Malcolm Wayne Fowlie was working underground at the mine on 15 February 2014 when he was caught underneath an 18 tonne rockfall. Mr Fowlie was found deceased by his co-workers.

The underground tunnel where Mr Fowlie was working was meant to have ground control in place to prevent a rockfall. However, the ground control that was installed was insufficient to prevent the rockfall.

In pleading guilty the company admitted it failed to install adequate ground control in the tunnel where Mr Fowlie was working.

It also admitted to failing to maintain an adequate geotechnical program at the mine, which would have reduced the likelihood of the rockfall.

Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety Mines Safety (DMIRS) Director Andrew Chaplyn said the dangers of rockfall are well known in underground mining and the incident was entirely preventable.

“Ensuring adequate ground control to protect workers is absolutely critical to the safe operation of an underground mine,” Mr Chaplyn said.

“This incident should not have happened and will have a lasting impact on the lives of Mr Fowlie’s family, friends and co-workers.

“It is a tragic reminder of why mining companies need to ensure the safety and health of workers is the highest priority.”