COOBER PEDY News & Events


Draft model Codes of Practice open for public comment until 9 SEPT

Andamooka's Peter Allen speaks out on the proposed changes to mining regulations

Safe Work Australia in partnership with the Commonwealth and states are recommending alteration of work health and safety laws for all mining across Australia. 

This involves the opal mining industry and to this end the South Australian Opal Alliance met on Monday and Tuesday 15-16 August in Coober Pedy to discuss the proposed regulation changes to the mining industries.

Peter Allen representing Andamooka in the South Australian Opal Alliance said on Tuesday, that the Opal Alliance are working towards putting in a submission to try and ensure that the regulations address the differences in opal mining as opposed to the big end of town.

However, Peter said he was more hopeful of keeping the pokie machines out Andmooka than changing the planned regulations of Safe Work Australia.

“The new standardised workplace regulation pertaining to mining industry is full of major issues and doesn’t recognise the unique style of gem mining which exists in Qld NSW and South Australia”, said Peter.

“We are hoping to put forward an argument that would justify the regulations recognising that Opal Mining and other smaller gem operations are a form of fossiking”.

“You’re only mining if you know what you are getting in advance. One size doesn’t fit all”, said Peter.

“Back filling is unlikely to be an issue but making claims safe after vacation could be”.

“We are highlighting specific issues with a view to convincing the regulators they need to consider the tinier operators”.

“Monitoring units to monitor air quality in opal mines would be very costly when the problem that creates bad air doesn’t exist. Ventilation shafts are quite satisfactory”, he said.

Peter Allen says there is the need to a sensible approach to the opal mining  industry in South Australia, which doesn’t employ any paid workforce and comprises one, two or three partners who work equally in searching for opal.

Peter said the time frame given to respond to the massive amount of proposed regulation documentation is very short and the Opal Alliance should have been given time to get feedback and correlate the feed into their response.

“It also appears as though there could be health and safety issues with individuals who own or occupy underground businesses and dwellings”, he said.

Carmelo Crisa of Regional Development Australia based in Coober Pedy said on Tuesday, “the Regional Development Australia Far North and the Opal Alliance representatives from Andamooka, Mintabie and Coober Pedy, have recently met to formulate a submission in response to the proposed legislations which are contained in the safe work SA health and safety regulations”.

“We hope to illustrate the uniqueness of the opal mining industry, and will put forward the views of the Opal miners consulted throught the meeting”.

“RDAFN is offering its support to the Opal Alliance, and will assist with the response to the proposed regulations”.

Draft model Codes of Practice for  “mining” have been released for public comment. 

It includes some of these:
• Survey and Drafting Directions for Mine Surveyors
• Mine Closure
• Ground Control in Open Underground Mines
• Health Monitoring in Mining
• Ventilation of Underground Mines
• Ground Control in Open Pit Mines
• Underground Winding Systems

Risk-based approach to regulation
It is proposed that:
* requirements for WHS management systems would cover all mines including small opal mines and quarries, and
*  exemptions be provided for under Part 10.3 of the draft model WHS Regulations.
Provision of self-contained self rescuers underground
Regulation 9.2.40(1) of the draft mining regulation requires mine operators of underground mines other than ‘tourist mines’ to ensure that a person who is to go underground is provided with a self-contained self rescuer. Consideration could be given to the scope of the proposed requirement, given that it is intended to apply to all underground mines other than ‘tourist mines’. This would include for example small opal mines.
Further draft model Regulations, Codes of Practice and an Issues Paper released for public comment on 15 July 2011 are available to view on the Safe Work Australia Website at

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