Event highlights explosives health and enviro risks

24th July 2015 By: Leandi Kolver - Creamer Media Deputy Editor

The health and environmental issues pertaining to explosives have to be addressed, says Mogorosi Communications conference producer Grace Gambiza, commenting on topics discussed at the third Annual Explosives Conference, which took place on May 26 and 27, in Johannesburg.

Mogorosi Communications organised the conference, which was convened to review the amended explosives regulation contained in the Mine Health and Safety Act.

“Safety in the explosives industry needs to be taken seriously,” she says, stating that this comes down to compliance with regulations regarding the use, handling, storage and transportation of explosives, besides other regulations.

Conference chairperson and Orica Africa business development manager Charles Deacon reiterates this by stating that the primary challenge which came to light during the conference was the numerous Acts regulating the transport and use of commercial explosives, as well as the environmental laws of which many mining professionals are ignorant and fall foul.

“A thorough understanding of the various legislation affecting mining and explosives use is paramount for operators in the current environment. “Past, present and proposed regulations are leading to a minefield of ambiguity, which, if not fully understood and complied with, might lead to decreasing safety statistics, monetary fines, criminal charges and, potentially, the closure of contravening mining operations,” he says.

Deacon adds that some of the legislation governing the explosives industry is unclear and seems contradictory in some aspects.

“Clarity on relevant, applicable and appropriate legislation needs to be gained to avoid confusion and noncompliance,” he says.

Deacon further states that the timing of the conference was particularly significant in light of the current review of explosives regulations.

“With ‘uncontrollables’, such as depressed commodity prices and increasing working costs affecting the South African mining industry, the issue of working safely with explosives and not breaching legislation is one which is in the hands of the mine operators and owners,” he tells Mining Weekly.

In addition to the focus on legislation, the conference also focused on the opportunity to leverage new technologies in terms of explosives and accessories, and the management thereof to mitigate the risk of defaulting on the relevant legislation.

There was also a focus on the role of academic institutions in providing up-to-date and flexible training for explosives practitioners to meet the changing demands in mining, Deacon says.

2016 Conference
Gambiza notes that preparations for next year’s conference are under way.

“We are hoping to engage with explosives industry experts in the next couple of months to deliberate the issues [for] next year,” she says.

Gambiza adds that topics at the 2016 conference are expected to cover occupational health, legislation and transportation.