Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD visited New Boliden Tara Mines (commonly known as Tara Mines) in Co. Meath today. The Minister met with miners, management and the broader industry to officially launch the new Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018. The new consolidated regulations draw together the various provisions previously spread over 20 pieces of legislation, making it easier for all those involved in the sector to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations. The key changes in the new Mines Regulations are:
- Consolidating over 20 different pieces of legislation into one comprehensive statutory instrument.
- Taking many previous duties away from the ‘Mine Manager’ and clearly placing these duties on the corporate entity or ‘Mine Operator’.
- Allowing the operator to develop their own rules, schemes and procedures specific to the mining operation.
- Clearly defining the duties of the mine owner, operator and everyone in the management structure, in relation to health and safety.
- Increasing the requirements on reporting of dangerous occurrences.
Speaking at the mine today Minister Breen, whose remit covers workplace safety, said: “I would like to thank the management at New Boliden Tara Mines for hosting this event today. I am very pleased to officially launch these new regulations with miners and mine management present. This is an important moment for all of the mining industry. In revoking and replacing the old legislation, some of which dated back to the 1960s, we have delivered a modern, simplified and consolidated statutory instrument that will make compliance much easier. I believe that these Regulations will help to support the development of Ireland's mineral resources in a socially responsible manner. I believe it is important to recognise the economic contribution that mineral extraction can make, including the provision of well-paid secure jobs in rural areas that often have limited employment opportunities.”
Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector for mines and quarries with the Health and Safety Authority said: “Safety and health standards at the Irish underground mining industry have generally improved over time with significant reductions in lost time accidents. We believe that these consolidated regulations will simplify compliance for existing and indeed future prospective mining operations. It will be far easier for mine operators to refer to one single text when considering legislation that applies specifically to mining activities. Underground mining can be a safe, healthy and rewarding career choice when operators, contractors and workers take on their responsibilities as set out in the consolidated regulations.” Tara Mines is the biggest zinc producer in Europe and the ninth largest zinc mine in the world. Approximately 90% of its revenue is from zinc with the remainder coming from lead and silver mineralisation.