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The President of BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Ian Ashby, has acknowledged that the recent safety performance within Western Australia Iron Ore was unacceptable to the business and has had an enormous impact on many lives. There have been five fatalities at the company’s operations in the Pilbara since July 2008.

“We apologise to all those affected by the events that have taken place,” Mr Ashby said.

“We are deeply saddened by the deaths within our Western Australia Iron Ore business and we are doing everything we can to identify the causes and take action to prevent further tragedies.” 

On 27 March 2009, BHP Billiton senior executives met with the West Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, the Hon. Norman Moore MLC, to discuss the company’s recent safety performance.

An extensive, independent expert investigation of safety systems at all Western Australia Iron Ore’s operations is already underway. This independent review is being conducted under Section 45 of the Mines Safety and Inspection Act.  The review commenced in October 2008 and is due to be completed and presented to the State Mining Engineer by 30 April this year.

While the review has not yet been completed, BHP Billiton Iron Ore is taking the following actions:

  • Reducing site access
  • Improving contractor management
  • Enhancing existing strategies to prevent excess working hours
  • Moving rail operations from the Mine Safety and Inspection Act to the Rail Safety Act
  • Enhancing traffic management standards
  • Suspending all non-essential work outside daylight hours

“It was a very productive meeting with the Minister and we will work closely with him and his Department,” said Ian Ashby.

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