Australian Mining: Mining needs to be safer, says leading mining professor

A leading mining professor says the future of Australian mining could be in jeopardy if companies don't get serious about their safety records, Australian Mining reported:

Professor Peter Lilly, Executive Director of Minerals and Energy Strategy at Curtin University, told the Mining & Engineering WA conference that the unless the mining industry ensures it can have zero fatalities, mining will no longer be a possibility in Australia.

According to Lilly,  the number of mining fatalities was worse 10 years ago but are still not good today, noting the dangers inherent in underground mining:

Lilly said the industry needs to be looking at ways to get workers out from deep underground mines and instead rely on technology to do the work so our miners can stay safe. “We have to take people out of deep underground mines,” he said. "All our mines in 30 years will be deep underground mines."

The professor also addressed the mining skills shortage in Australia, saying the industry needs to change the ratio of staff to equipment:

Current figures predict 33 000 skilled workers will be needed in WA alone this year and governments have outlined initiatives to speed up apprenticeships and make it easier for skilled migrants to enter Australia to work.

7 News reports in June that a new, multi-million dollar training facility in Perth will help to address the Australian mining industry’s skill shortage by shifting focus away from skilled migration and towards training.

[Minister for Workplace Relations, Chris] Evans says the $3.2 million centre will provide students with the skills needed to make a direct transition into the work force. “We don’t want to focus on migration alone, we want to focus on getting young West Australians, and Australian kids more generally, chances to work in high-skilled, high-paid jobs,” Senator Evans said.