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Commission rejects Yancoal appeal against NSW Resources Regulator

Coal News - Published on Fri, 20 Jul 2018

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The Herald reported that Yancoal has lost a legal challenge against the NSW Resources Regulator over a safety-related shutdown of work at its Austar underground coal mine near Paxton. The Industrial Relations Commission rejected an application by Yancoal for an external review of two prohibition notices issued after a succession of “coal burst” events similar to an incident in 2014 that killed two mine workers.

Yancoal argued the Resources Regulator had explicitly refused to cancel the prohibition notices after a request by Yancoal. But chief commissioner Mr Peter Kite, SC, found the regulator did not refuse to cancel the prohibition notices, but continued to correspond with Yancoal about the seriousness of circumstances at the mine and ongoing concern for worker safety.

Mr Kite accepted the Resources Regulator’s argument that it had not yet made a final decision about whether the mine was safe for work to resume and sought further information from the company.

The regulator’s letters to the company in May and June expressed its concerns about “the seriousness of the circumstances at the mine, a continuing concern for the safety of workers at the mine, an ongoing assessment of the situation and a request for more information from the applicant”, Mr Kite said.

Mr Kite said that “These factors point to active consideration of the applicant’s requests for cancellation of the prohibition notices. They do not suggest that a decision or decisions have been made.”

In May Resources Regulator deputy secretary Lee Shearer requested confirmation from Yancoal that “key duty holders” were “fully aware of the circumstances at the mine and the steps taken to eliminate or mitigate the identified risks”. In the letter Ms Shearer expressed concern that mine workers remained potentially exposed to risk.

The regulator also sought confirmation that a “rigorous engineering-based evaluation” supported Yancoal’s application that prohibition notices be cancelled and work allowed to resume at the mine.

Yancoal dropped a substantial part of its application to the commission after the regulator successfully argued it had not yet made a decision about whether to lift the prohibition notices.

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Posted By : Joykumar Irom on Fri, 20 Jul 2018
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