MINING SAFETY IN PERU
Peru’s mineral heritage has played a pre-eminent role in shaping the course of its colourful history. Pre-Columbian societies wrought adornments of silver and gold; tales of fabled Inca gold seduced and enriched Conquistadors, eventually spelling the end of the Inca Empire. Today, mineral exports account for approximately 60% of Peru’s total export revenue. This formidable growth has not, however, been free of growing pains with health and safety being a considerable concern.
Thus far this year, the Peruvian Ministry of Energy Mines has recorded 40 fatalities from mining related activities, most of them consequences of toxic substance inhalation, rock falls and traffic accidents. In 2012, there were 53 mining related deaths that were registered. This down from 65 in 2010 and 56 in 2009 before new health and safety regulations were introduced.
Chile’s death tally, by way of comparison, stood at 17 between January 2013 and August according to Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería.
Peru has, however, taken measures to improve health and safety conditions.
Mining Health and Safety Regulations
Peru’s mining safety legislation underwent substantive updates in 2011 thanks to Supreme Decree No. 055-2010. The decree approved the new Mining Health and Safety Regulations (Reglamento de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional en Minería). The main objectives of these “Regulations” are to prevent occupational accidents and illnesses and to promote a culture that prevents occupational risk in the mining industry. These new standards not only apply to mining companies, they also extend to contractors and mining related service providers as well. The Regulations began to apply as of 1 January 2011.
The Regulations introduce, amongst others, the following obligations on mining companies, mining contractors and service providers:
– To provide employees with adequate training, personal safety equipment and housing.
– To provide adequate communications systems between work areas.
– To create and maintain adequate access and escape routes and refuge sites.
– To create and maintain adequate ventilation and drainage systems.
– To create and maintain adequate handling systems for toxic substances.
Mining operations must also register an annual Health and Safety Program to be submitted to mining authorities when required, and must also create a Health and Safety Committee. This initiative promotes internal auditing of the Regulation’s requirements, and the committee must include both employers and employees. It must be managed by a professional engineer, with no less than 5 years professional experience and comprehensive health and safety training (depending on the type of operation).
The authorities in charge of enforcing these regulations are Osinergmin, Peru’sMining and Energy Investment Supervision Agency, who oversees major and medium mining companies, and Peru’s Regional Governments for small and artisanal mining operations.
Health and safety has become an important feature in Peru´s mining business and government circles.
Australian and Canadian companies tend to have a much more proactive view in regards to health and safety. It is of importance to both Peru and Chile to continuously improve their safety records. Companies such as BHP have done an excellent job at exporting their policies from Australia to the mine sites here in the region creating standards that go above and beyond what is legally required.
We continue to see demand for companies who can offer technology or equipment to help Chilean and Peruvian improve this area of their operations.
If you would like to know more, please do not hesitate to contact the Harris Gomez Group. We continue to represent many of the leading Australian companies who are active in this space and can possibly help from both a legal and business standpoint.[social_links]