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Mineral Mines & Quarries Inspectorate | Bulletin | No.202 V 1 | 10 June 2022

Integrity of Structures at Mineral Mines and Quarries

What happened?

Since 2011 there have been 129 reported incidents involving the failure of structures in the mineral mines and quarries sector, with 19 of those occurring in the last 12 months. These structural failures have resulted in uncontrolled movements, and falls of objects, persons and, in some circumstances, whole structures. All of these incidents had the potential to cause serious harm to persons.

Five of the recent incidents included:

The Mineral Mines and Quarries Inspectorate has issued 17 compliance actions to control hazards associated with failure of structures across Queensland in the last 12 months.

How did it happen?

Though there were a number of contributing factors to the incidents identified above, a common issue has been the failure to identify 'loss of structural integrity' as a hazard and to implement effective controls.

Key issues

Sites with structures must ensure they have identified the failure of those structures as a hazard. Controls should be based on the likelihood and potential consequences of damage to mechanisms and failure modes of the structures on site.

Damage mechanisms can include:


Additional Guidance

Structures at mines and quarries can include the following:

The failure modes of structures can include:

Audits, Inspections and establishment of a Structural Integrity Management Plan:

It is recommended that sites engage competent persons (typically engineering consultancies with RPEQ certified structural engineers) to assist them in first establishing a baseline audit of their structures. The results of the audit should be used to identify the risk of any defects found, and repairs prioritised accordingly (from items requiring immediate attention to items requiring attention in several years).

Management plans can then be created to manage structures as part of the site's preventative maintenance strategy. Typical industry strategies for structures can involve periodic in-house and external third-party inspections, with the interval of these inspections set based on likely damage and failure mechanisms and the associated level of risk.

Some useful questions to ask when establishing a structural integrity program on site are as follows:

A management plan for structural integrity can be used to give a systematic approach to managing the structures on a mine site. Typical plans within industry include consideration of at least the following elements:

  • Scope and purpose
  • Applicable structures on site and how these will be divided into manageable portions
  • Design of structures
  • Construction/Installation of structures
  • Modification of structures
  • Inspections and audits
  • Defect reporting and management process
  • Decommissioning and demolition of structures
  • Records management
  • Training and competency requirements of personnel with roles in managing structures/inspections
  • Roles and responsibilities.

Applicable standards (non-exhaustive list):

  • AS/NZS 1170 Series - Structural design actions
  • AS 1657:2018 - Fixed platforms, walkways, stairways and ladders - Design, construction and installation
  • AS 1720 series - Timber structures
  • AS 3600:2018 - Concrete structures
  • AS 3700:2018 - Masonry structures
  • AS 3990-1993 - Mechanical equipment - Steelwork
  • AS 4100:2020 - Steel structures
  • AS 4678-2002 - Earth-retaining structures
  • AS 5100 series - Bridge design
  • AS 5104:2017 - General principles on reliability for structures
  • AS ISO 13822-2005 - Basis for design of structures - Assessment of existing structures.

Authorised by Trevor Brown - Chief Inspector – Mineral Mines & Quarries

Contact: Rob Henson, Inspector of Mines , +61 7 4745 4105

Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Safety: This information is issued to promote safety through experience. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.
Placement: Place this announcement on noticeboards and ensure all relevant people in your organisation receive a copy.

All information on this page (Integrity of Structures at Mineral Mines and Quarries - is correct as of time of printing (8 July 2022 2:18 am).