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Security measures for WA mines in care and maintenances

Security is an essential aspect of any mining operation, so what happens

when a mine enters care and maintenance?


Without proper measures in place – trained security personnel and surveillance

systems – mines are left vulnerable to theft, vandalism, and other criminal activities.


And from a public health and safety perspective, if people enter a site illegally, a

mine is still liable for hazards and associated risks.


At Goldfields Security Services, we cover all bases, looking after a mine’s security

needs for the life of their asset from early-stage exploration to production, care and

maintenance, and beyond.


In this blog, we’ll discuss the importance of effective security measures for WA

mines in care and maintenance, shining a spotlight on the threats and sharing some

strategies you can adopt to mitigate risk on site.


But first, for any of you reading this that aren’t familiar with the mining lingo, a mine

in care and maintenance is an asset where production has come to a halt, and the

site is being maintained to preserve the value of the assets and ensure the mine can

resume production when the timing is right.


Mines are placed under care and maintenance for various reasons. For example,

commodity prices may not be favourable so the company may take a break and

resume operations when its more profitable. The project could also be under

maintenance and upgrades, or there could be a change in ownership.


During this period, the mine may be minimally staffed, and many of the workers are

laid off. However, despite the reduced activity, there are still inherent risks as it can

be a target for criminal behaviour.


With this in mind, we spoke to one of our mining contacts who shared what generally

happens at their operations when they go into care and maintenance.


“We normally ship all of our equipment off site if we are expecting a shutdown of

more than 18 months,” our contact said, who wished to remain anonymous.


“Most of our equipment is rented or is useable on other sites so we will move most of

the buildings and the equipment offsite. The buildings are then locked up and we will

have someone come around and check on these once a week.


“If there is damage or something is being accessed that shouldn't be, we will

organise a security service to look after this until the issue is resolved.”


Risks facing WA mines in care and maintenance


So, what are the security risks facing a mine in care and maintenance? Here are

some of the big ones:


  • Theft: Without adequate security measures, equipment and other valuable assets left at the site can be stolen. Illegal prospecting and commodity theft are also a concern.

  • Vandalism: Abandoned sites are also at risk of vandalism. Vandals can cause significant damage to the site, such as breaking windows, damaging machinery, and even setting fires.

  • Environmental Damage: Mines are often located in environmentally sensitive areas, and the improper handling of waste and chemicals can cause serious harm to the environment.

  •  Liability: A lack of security can result in injuries or even death to unauthorised personnel who gain access to the site. This can lead to significant liability issues for the mining company.

Our mining contact said having a water-tight security strategy and plan was essential

to deterring the public from entering certain areas / and also catch people in their

tracks if they decide to breach these zones.


“It’s fine to have monitored cameras but without a response to these you do not have

a way of stopping them carrying out whatever they want to do on your site,” they

said.


“This could range from stealing equipment or parts for vehicles, to damaging

equipment so that it does not operate. Some people are also known to steal gold

from sites and having a security presence can help stop this.”


Security measures we recommend


As with an operational mine, your project in care and maintenance will require a

professional risk assessment to look into the unique set of risks facing your individual

operation.


Security measures that may be beneficial to you could include:


  •  Security Personnel: Mobilising trained security personnel to your site to monitor, conduct regular mobile patrols, and be on-hand to respond to any security breaches.

  •  CCTV Surveillance: CCTV cameras can monitor the site 24/7, providing real-time footage of any suspicious activity. This is particularly important for projects that are close to residential towns in the Goldfields.

  •  Access Control: Access control measures, such as gates and barriers, can prevent unauthorised access to the site. It is important that these are of a high-quality to avoid breaches.

  • Alarms: Alarm systems are another way to alert security personnel to any security breaches, enabling them to respond quickly and effectively. They’re also another physical deterrent.

  •  Security Audits: Regular security audits and risk assessments conducted by a professional, like us, can identify any vulnerabilities in your security plan and ensure it remains effective.

In addition, it is also the mine’s responsibility to ensure the mine is physically safe for

the skeleton staff still working on site, security team, and a potential trespasser.


National law firm Gilbert and Tobin echoed this point in its recent report ‘Issues to

depth about the health and safety obligations of a mine.


It said a key statutory safety obligation during the period of care and maintenance is

that the company is “required to take all practical measures to ensure that any

person who accesses the mine (whether with the consent of the company or as a

trespasser) is not exposed to hazards”.


“Hazards means anything that may result in injury to a person or harm to that

person’s health,” Gilbert and Tobin states.


“To ensure that no person is exposed to hazards on the site during the care and

maintenance period, all buildings, plant and equipment must be appropriately locked

down and secured. Any rehabilitated or partially rehabilitated works must be bunded

and fenced as required to prevent any inadvertent or uninvited access.


Appropriate signage should also be placed around the site to ensure that all persons are aware that access to the site is prohibited.”


Gilbert and Tobin said an experienced caretaker must be appointed to undertake

daily systematic monitoring of the mine and the safety measures implemented in

securing the mine to ensure their ongoing effectiveness.


Our mining contact also shared their views on this and the operational measures

their team follow when placing a mine in care and maintenance to minimise potential

risk to the public.


“The ramp is closed off and there is a buffer of dirt placed around the open pit. This

is to stop people being able to drive in there. There is also a gap between the buffer

and the wall of the pit so that if anyone climbs the sand wall, they won’t fall off

straight into the pit. There is also signage left around the old pit saying that there are

old workings left there and to be cautious where you are walking,” they said.


They added from their experience, trespassing and illegal prospecting typically

occurred at night when it was dark.


“This means that having security at night-time is a better option as this minimises

cost for not having security 24/7 as well as having a deterrent in place,” they said.


“We also worked with placing trail cameras around the area to record movement.

These are especially good when placed on tracks entering the site as you can collect

vehicle information and photos of the people.”


The benefits of outsourcing your security services


It is clear there is a lot to think about when putting together a security plan for your

mine in care and maintenance.


At Goldfields Security Services, our experienced team have the expertise to develop

and implement effective security measures and risk assessments for your site.


We are proud to work for mines in the WA Goldfields and have a strong

understanding of the industry and risks facing operations in the region.


If you have any questions or would like to book us in for a risk assessment for your

site, we’d love to hear from you. Call us on 0404 449 326 or email

info@goldfieldssecurityservices.com.au.

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