Most regulation requirements will be familiar to the mining community and the obligation to manage risks to health and safety are the same as in all workplaces.

Safety management systems are required as the basis for managing all risks to health and safety associated with mining. The system describes policies, management structures, and contractor management arrangements and importantly control measures encompassing principal mining hazards.

The development of principal mining hazard plans is about identifying the most significant hazards that may be present on a mine site and outlining the measures that will be taken to control the risks arising from those hazards. For example, if ground stability is a significant issue it will be identified as a principal mining hazard and there needs to be a plan for how this will be controlled.

Not all mines are the same and the detail contained in the management system will depend on the nature and complexity of the mining operations and the risks associated with those operations. Small mines and quarries will have simpler management systems than a large mining operation.

Regulations set the minimum standard which must be applied to manage risks that are common to most mines. Mining operations can be high risk activities and regulators need to be notified of certain incidents that may occur in a mine. An Incident Notification form must be used to notify us as soon as possible following a high potential incident or an incident that results in injury or illness requiring medical treatment.

Involve and consult with your workers to:

  • develop a Safety Management System
  • identify Principal Mining Hazards
  • prepare Principal Mining Hazard Plans
  • check that specific control measures are in place for hazards
  • make sure your emergency plans are up to date.

Operational controls

These regulations are relevant for mines:

  • communication between outgoing and incoming shifts - Regulation 630
  • movement of mobile plant - Regulation 631
  • prohibited use of certain items or substances - Regulation 632 and Schedule 20
  • safe closure, suspension or abandonment of mines - Regulation 633
  • minimum age of workers - Regulation 634
  • air quality and monitoring - Regulations 635-639

Controls relevant to underground mines

These regulations are relevant for mines:

  • inrush hazards - Regulation 642
  • connecting workings - Regulation 643
  • winding systems - Regulation 644
  • operation of shaft conveyances - Regulation 645
  • dust explosion - Regulation 646
  • air quality and monitoring (in addition to the general requirements see also Regulations 647-656)
  • monitoring and testing of ventilation systems and development of ventilation plan - Regulations 653-656

Mine survey plans

The mine operator of a mine must ensure that a detailed survey plan of the mine is prepared by a competent person (Regulation 675S). If present at the mine, the plan must show the following:

  • the workings of the mine, including disused workings and bore holes
  • the location of electrical installations
  • the location of telephones and other fixed plant associated with the radio and telecommunications systems
  • water dams and tailings dams
  • natural features surrounding the mine
  • places for the storage of hydrocarbons or explosives
  • points of entry and exit, including emergency exits
  • refuges (in underground mines)
  • reference to the Geocentric Datum of Australia and the Australian Height Datum (this is not required for opal mining).

The plan must be reviewed at least once every 12 months or at other times if the plan no longer accurately reflects the mine. It must be available for inspection by inspectors or on request by workers.

Geocentric Datum of Australia

The Geocentric Datum of Australia (GDA) is the reference system that underlies Australia’s location information. It is used to ensure the accuracy of positioning measurements in surveying and mapping.

Changes to the GDA (GDA2020)

The Australia and New Zealand Spatial Land Information Council (ANZLIC) is the peak government body in Australia and New Zealand responsible for spatial information, including the GDA.

ANZLIC committed to the goal of adopting GDA2020 as the operational datum by 30 June 2020. For consistency across government and to support this initiative, a number of South Australian government agencies, including SafeWork SA, are adopting GDA2020 in various sets of regulations.

GDA in the WHS Regulations

The Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA) include reference to the GDA.

The WHS Regulations require:

  • that the mine operator of a mine must ensure that a detailed survey plan of the mine is prepared by a competent person; and
  • that this survey plan must (unless it relates to a precious stones field under the Opal Mining Act 1995) reference the mine to the GDA and the Australian Height Datum.

Until recently, the WHS Regulations defined GDA as meaning GDA94. A mine survey plan therefore had to reference the mine to this datum.

The WHS Regulations have been amended so that:

  • a mine survey plan prepared between 24 September 2020 and 23 September 2022 must reference either GDA94 or GDA2020
  • a mine survey plan from 24 September 2022 must reference GDA2020.

Transitional period

There is a two year transitional period for mine survey plans - where either the GDA94 or GDA2020 must be referenced. This will assist mine operators with the transition to GDA2020.

This transition aligns with the mine operator’s review of mine survey plans that must happen at least every 12 months. This alignment can mitigate the costs and effects for mine operators in transitioning to GDA2020. This period is also consistent with the approach taken by SafeWork SA’s mine safety counterparts in New South Wales and Queensland.

Australian Height Datum

SafeWork SA has not made any changes to the definition of Australian Height Datum as a result of the amendments to the GDA.

Visit AZLIC website for further information on GDA2020.


MAQOHSC is the Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee

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