Even as business risks decrease, mining still involves big risks to safety.

What does risk mean in a mining context?


When people talk about mining being a risky industry, they can be referring to one of two quite different things. From a business perspective, the decline in mining profits over the past decade has made the financial risks involved in mining seem more significant. But a constant issue in mining is the serious personal risk of accidents and injuries that miners face.

With the recent report that the industry may be coming out of its decline and potentially facing an upturn, we thought it was a good time to consider these two ideas of risk and what they mean to mining companies today, as well as ways Locker Group can help manage those risks.

The Australian mining industry is showing signs of a turnaround.

Increased confidence in the industry

The 2016 report on Australian mining by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) suggests a possible return to form for the industry, as there have been improvements in capital expenditure, cash flow from operations and dividend payments for mid-tier mining companies.

Gold and lithium have been the main drivers of the increases, and while the situation is still drastically different from the height of the mining boom, the rising numbers are being described by PwC as signs of a turnaround. But while this might allay some concerns about the business risk of mining, moves to capitalise on this and increase production have the potential to increase the second type of risk, as the industry takes on more workers.

The potential decrease in business risk surrounding mining should not be confused for a reduction in the dangers that face miners. Australian mining claims lives every year, and news.com.au ranked mining as one of the most dangerous jobs in Australia.

However, enthusiasm about the financial rise of the industry may bias companies’ analysis of all aspects of the risks involved. Our analysis of risk can often be flawed and warped by our personal biases, according to Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister.

Mining companies face business and safety risks.Mining companies face business and safety risks.

A Kiwi scientist analysis our understanding of risk

Gluckman has released a paper this year discussing how people’s understanding of risk can be skewed. In ‘Making decisions in the face of uncertainty: Understanding risk’, he says that we can often misjudge the importance of risks because of in-built biases and preconceptions that cause us to place too much importance weight on some risks while failing to give others the attention they require.

This is why it is so important to keep worker health and safety as the forefront of our minds. While the focus of the mining industry may shift to renewed growth and boosted profits, this expansion cannot be allowed to overshadow the risks that our workers are facing every day.

Locker Group manufactures products that contribute to effective mining practices.

Locker Group’s contribution to production and safety 

Locker Group provides products that minimise both the risks that mining companies face. We manufacture products and materials that contribute to successful, effective mining practices and therefore add to better returns. Our screening products are available in both rubber and polyurethane to account for the needs of different mining environments. They can be customised to get the most out of your operation.

Our products are also used to ensure the safest possible working conditions for miners, and it is this use that shouldn’t be overlooked as businesses gain confidence in the industry resurgence. Our walkway gratings and handrails provide security to workers in risky mine situations and can be adapted to suit the needs of a particular site. Without our miners, any upswing in the industry wouldn’t be happening – so it’s important we keep them safe.

If you’d like to find out more about how Locker Group can help your mining endeavours and reduce the risks to your company and your workers, please get in touch today.

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