A searchable national catalogue of mine plans is now available to the public after the culmination of a three-year project by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and WorkSafe New Zealand.
The NZ Mine Plans database, which holds approximately 3500 mine plans, is now available online via links on the websites of both government agencies. The number of mine plans available is expected to grow to more than 6000 in the coming months.
“This has been a mammoth undertaking, involving both WorkSafe and MBIE working closely together, to further support recommendations from the Pike River Royal Commission,” says New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals Information Services Manager Richard Garlick.
The Pike River Royal Commission found regulation of mine planning was lacking, with insufficient focus on mine plan compliance and health and safety requirements. It recommended that regulators collaborate to ensure that health and safety is considered as early as possible and before permits are issued, and that the Crown Minerals regime should be changed to ensure that health and safety is an integral part of permit allocation and monitoring.
Mine plans map the layout of an underground or opencast mine and are important deliverables from the minerals industry. This ensures both operators and regulators have oversight of mining activities ensuring that factors such as health and safety, environmental, and resource optimisation are all taken into account when assessing annual reporting compliance or permit applications.
In addition to current mine plans, historic plans from around New Zealand have been catalogued from museums, libraries and private collections to be discoverable in a central repository. Mine plans more than five years old and historic plans are available for the public to view and use.
“What we now have are robust standards for when mine plans are submitted, a repository for all current plans and a catalogue of historical plans – and as a result much improved access to important information for government agencies, local authorities, mine operators and the public,” says Paul Hunt, Chief Inspector Extractives at WorkSafe’s High Hazards and Energy Safety Unit.