1999 Airblast Tragedy leads to change at Northparkes Mines and a safer future
June 25, 2014

On 24th November 1999, disaster struck at Northparkes Mines in Central Western NSW. Four mine workers, Ross Bodkin 41, Michael House 33, Stuart Osmond 47 and Colin Lloyd-Jones 41, were killed instantly when millions of tonnes of ore and earth collapsed suddenly, leading to a catastrophic air blast through an access tunnel, where they were working 140 metres below the ground.

airparkes-blast.jpg
 
The team at Northparkes Mines was devastated and it triggered a major review of the way the mine was operating.
 
Now, 15 years later, safety procedures at Northparkes Mines are some of the most admired in the world. They have implemented extensive risk management procedures, including a Trigger Action Response Plan which outlines acceptable limits and how employees should respond and act appropriately to situations that occur. They also have an outstanding Cave Management Plan, which they work to daily and report on monthly to management. 
 
The team at Northparkes are not just committed to leading Health & Safety practice at the mine, they are focussed on being the best, and constantly striving for zero harm. They believe automation is key, and push for new mining technology with the best possible monitoring to ensure their miners are 100% “out of harm’s way”, to prevent any further incidents from happening today, tomorrow or anytime the future.
 
“The steps that we’ve taken and we continue to take for each of our block caves are directly learned from [the 1999] incident.”
 
Today people see Northparkes Mines as a global “leader in management practices”, especially Cave Management. And Northparkes Mines is spreading the word to improve risk management strategies at mines worldwide, doing whatever they can to share their leading practices.
 
“We’re getting out there by talking about [our management practices], putting them into papers and trying to get advertised on a worldwide scale.”
 
Now, that’s what we call world class.
 

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