17th June 2020

A second exercise PANDEMINEIUM was held yesterday, bringing together mines from the Cobar and Nyngan areas with emergency services and government agencies to further test the emergency response in the event of an underground mine emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This exercise followed the success of a previous session in April, facilitated by the Resources Regulator, NSW Police and NSW Health for mines and local agencies in the Broken Hill area.

The virtual underground mine collapse and protracted rescue operation provided a platform for participants to explain their roles and responsibilities during such an event along with exploring any new processes and procedures put in place specifically to reduce the risks of COVID-19.  The exercise was remotely facilitated by the Resources Regulator from Maitland, with participants and facilitators joining from Cobar, Broken Hill and underground mining operations in the Cobar area.

The development of the exercise originally began following discussions between the mining industry, NSW Health, Emergency Services and regulators in a newly formed mining reference group of the Broken Hill LEMC. The initial discussion explored the various new procedures and processes adopted by both public and private sector elements in the current COVID-19 pandemic, and how some of these may be untested through the lens of a mine emergency response.  The benefits of recent (internal) exercises held by the Resources Regulator identified an opportunity to similarly test, in a multi-agency mode, the ability to respond to a major mining incident in remote and regional areas of the State.