Planning ahead helps reduce the impact of accidents in English

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English version of a paper by Cesar & Franco Oboni, Riskope International, published on China Mining Magazine in January 2008.
The paper deals with Risk and Crisis Management in the mining industry.

Published in: Education, Business, Technology
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Planning ahead helps reduce the impact of accidents in English

  1. 1. FOCUS ON RISK MANAGEMENT Planning ahead helps reduce the impact of accidents Cesar & Franco Oboni, Oboni Riskope International Mining is an ancient occupation, long recognized as being difficult and able to cause injury and disease. More recently, the industry has been exposed to environmental liabilities and catastrophic accidents. Nowadays it can be easily said that there is no mine in the world that can escape public and media scrutiny. Mergers and acquisitions in foreign countries only contribute to further increasing the resulting exposures, especially when cross cultural aspects complicate communication and understanding of various participants’ positions. Accidents of all kinds remain a significant problem and range from the trivial to multiple fatalities or large environmental contamination. Common causes of fatal injury include rock fall, fires, explosions, mobile One of the authors participated in the risk assessment of this high equipment accidents, falls from altitude Andean mine's tailings system before it was commissioned. height, entrapment and electrocution. Then the slopes and the access road became the objects of in Less common but recognized causes depth studies, regularly updated by the risk assessment team. of fatal injury include flooding of underground workings, wet-fill release larger risks and their resulting is the object of what is generally from collapsed bulkheads and air crises with the related public image called risk management. As no risks blast from block caving failure. Finally, damage potentially generated by can be reduced to zero, the study these are tailings dams failures such natural or man-made hazards, are less of how to react to residual risks as the ones in Marcopper in the studied and still represent a source (meaning the risks still existing after Philippines; Omai in Guyana; Los of uncertainty in the sustainable mitigation to acceptable levels) Frailes in Spain; Merrispruit in South development of mining operations. is called crisis management. Africa; and Baya Mare in Romania. Figure 2 depicts the share value We have studied more than 40 These represent an important evolution of Nova Gold after the operations worldwide using a template class of well publicized failures often announcement of the suspension that allows owners to compare their bringing critical consequences of Galore Creek Mine, their operations among each other and to their operators. They also flagship project. It was suspended even to compare operations against a have an impact on the value of a because of cost escalation and wolrdwide database. This allows owners company's shares (see figure 1). a decline in metal prices. to make better decisions giving them a Studies have shown that The study of what can go wrong competitive edge on other companies. applications of health & safety in an existing or future operation In many accidents and near techniques and standard operating and what can be done to preserve its misses, investigations of the procedures can lead to substantial operability and future development causes of the accident lie at declines in injury rates. However 2 CHINA MINING Journal January 2008
  2. 2. Riskope's website or EduMine). As stressed above, there is a strong and increasing demand by the public to know its level of exposure to risk, and to also know about the efforts being undertaken by the mining company to mitigate those risks. Advanced mining companies have learned to be concerned about this “new type” of risks: they understand that public reactions may lead to crisis and the consequences they generate may have even bigger costs. Some of these unforeseen costs are boycotts, loss of share value, and even riots. Fig. 1 Los Frailes Tailings Dam Failure Crisis Phases seen through the operator’s share value price evolution over seven years Products that help companies cope with these issues include evacuation plans, catastrophe response plans and crisis action plans. Having these plans in place can help reduce stress, minimize human error and avoid telecom stations overloading. They have been tested in the field during full scale tests. To conclude, we will answer the following question: What do risk and crisis management do for a mining company? In a general way they will help address the proper areas Fig. 2 Nova Gold’s share value evolution before, during and after the of concern in a specific operation, announcement of the suspension of the Galore Creek Mine project. determine where to spend money on reducing unacceptable risks, identify tactical level. Investigators look at good idea is a large asbestos mine what could go wrong, and plan for what workers’ insufficient awareness or dry tailings dump environmental to do if something does go wrong. information, or at the strategic level rehabilitation project that was (such as the design of the mine, or designed following these concepts. It Franco Cesar Oboni head Riskope, the decision making process.) won an international bid because of an international practice on risk and To avoid these accidents the competitive advantages brought crisis management. Experience includes happening again, the company in by the transparent and justifiable consulting for major mining companies must enhance environmental or risk design and operating choices. and industries, coaching and authoring awareness of the workers through Training courses can be given of over 30 papers, co-authoring appropriate training, or use risk to various levels of personnel of a book, e-campus courses on management plans when preparing through appropriate workshops EduMine, private and university based operating procedures and designs. or web based learning or the so seminars, and workshops worldwide. An example of why this is a called blended education (see January 2008 CHINA MINING Journal 2

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