Newcrest convicted, fined $450,000 after 2015 underground death of Lee Peters

PENALTY: Newcrest Mining has been convicted and fined after the death of Lee Peters.
PENALTY: Newcrest Mining has been convicted and fined after the death of Lee Peters.

A FATALITY at Cadia Valley Operations’ Ridgeway mine in 2015 has led to a conviction and a $450,000 fine for Newcrest Mining.

The company was convicted in the NSW District Court on Monday of a category two offence for failing to comply with a health and safety duty under the Work Health and Safety Act after Lee Peters, 28, was fatally crushed underground.

Mr Peters was using a modified water cannon just before 10pm on September 6 to unblock a draw point after rock became stuck, creating a hang up.

It has resulted in the death of a young worker, who expected to go home at the end of his shift.

Anthony Keon

When the hang up let go, it forced the cannon backwards, killing the Pybar Mining Services technician instantly.

The Department of Planning and Environment’s Resources Regulator prosecuted the case after the investigation report found workers sometimes sought shelter in the wrong direction to seek fresher air and supervisors knew of the practice. 

Mr Peters was facing south, when correct procedure would have required him to retreat north.

LIFE LOST: Lee Peters was killed on Sunday, September 6, 2015. Photo: SUPPLIED

LIFE LOST: Lee Peters was killed on Sunday, September 6, 2015. Photo: SUPPLIED

The report also found there were four different directives for the size and location requirements for bunds, which are built in front of draw points to protect workers from falling rock. 

Resources Regulator chief compliance officer Anthony Keon welcomed the judgment.

“This conviction should remind our mining industry that any failure in work health and safety duties can have serious consequences,” he said.

“In this case it has resulted in the death of a young worker, who expected to go home at the end of his shift.”

TRAGEDY: The front page of the Central Western Daily on Tuesday, September 8, 2015.

TRAGEDY: The front page of the Central Western Daily on Tuesday, September 8, 2015.

The fine was discounted by 25 per cent after the company entered an early guilty plea.

Cadia Valley Operations general manager Peter Sharpe said the company had accepted the outcome and would not appeal the court’s decision.

“We continue to offer our ongoing support to Lee’s family and colleagues,” he said.

“We are working to ensure this never happens again.

“Since the tragic accident we have increased our focus on eliminating fatalities and life-changing injuries from our business and we continue to implement our company-wide safety transformation plan.”

Mr Sharpe said Newcrest was unwavering in its commitment to ensuring everyone went home safe and healthy every day.

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