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UPDATED: CMT guilty over mine deaths

A guilty plea relating to the deaths of two Queenstown miners has been entered by the mining company.
Nanjing Night Net

Copper Mines of Tasmania on Monday pleaded guilty to one of two countsagainst it of failure to comply with a health and safety duty.

The guilty plea related to the deaths ofAlistair Lucas and Craig Gleeson.

Theydied after a fall at the Mt Lyell mine in December 2013.

Mt Lyell

In the Burnie Magistrates Court, the company did not enter a plea on the second count.

That relatesto Michael Welsh’s death at the mine in January 2014.

Former Mt Lyell mine manager Gerard Clyde appeared onone count of failing to comply with the duties of a site officer.

He did not enter a plea, and was bailed to next appear for mention on October 17.

The charge against the company relating to Mr Welsh was also adjourned until that date for mention.

Magistrate Tamara Jago adjourned the count to which the company pleaded guilty until November 9for sentencing.

Details of what happened are expected to be discussed then, although it is likely the company will not be sentenced on that day.

It is pushing towards three years since the deaths.

Australian Workers’ Union representative Ian Drake said the miners’ families were frustrated by how long the court matters were taking.

“Three years is a fair time,” Mr Drake said.

CMTgeneral manager, care and maintenance, Peter Walker said the guilty plea to particulars relating to the deaths of Mr Gleeson and Mr Lucasfolloweddiscussions with the office of the director of public prosecutions.

The company said the two men had been working on a temporary wooden platform near the bottom of the mine’s main shaft when a linkage assembly fell onto the platform, causing it to break away.

Mr Walker said the company very much regretted the incident and had been in touch with the families of the two men to inform them of the plea, as well as with the family of Mr Welsh.

Mr Welsh died as a result of a mud rush.

Mr Walker said the welfare of the families of the three men remained the company’sfocus.

“Our hearts go out to the families and the friends of the three men,” he said.

“We recognise that these court hearings are very difficult times for all concerned and we want to support them as much as we can,”he said.

“It would have been our preference to have the court hearings for both matters heard simultaneously so as to manage, as far as possible, the impact on families and workmates.

“Unfortunately this has not been possible.

“We are still in discussions with the DPP in relation to the second incident.

“We have been somewhat frustrated with the length of time it has taken for these matters to be finalised,but we also understand that these are complex matters that require careful consideration.”

Production was halted at the mine after the deaths, and a significantly different mining plan was prepared, including a new safety plan.

However, the veteran mine remains on care and maintenance due to weak copper prices.

Owner Vedanta Resources wants to resume production at Mt Lyell when prices improve.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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