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64 cancelled mine inspections prompts sweeping audit

WA Department of Mines inspectors
Mine inspectors

Authorities will investigate factors that prevented dozens of alleged breaches from being actioned.

Reece Whitby is tired of hearing excuses for why resources inspections were cancelled, and recently ordered a comprehensive audit into how reported breaches are handled.

The Western Australian environment, climate action, racing and gaming minister hopes this will get to the bottom of 64 cancelled inspections at “high to extreme risk” mine sites during the 2022 financial year.

“There is going to be a very thorough audit process in the department to work out new ways to do things better,” he said according to Seven West Media.

“That is something that we have already embarked on, we take it on the chin, we acknowledge it, we accept it and we are moving forward in responding to it.”

The remarks came after state Auditor-General Caroline Spencer discovered “concerning” weak enforcement practices at both the Department of Water and Environment Regulation and Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS). Spencer’s Compliance with Mining Environmental Conditions report showed no record of enforcement action from DMIRS throughout fiscal 2022.

Whitby acknowledged some public servants need to improve, and reminded top bureaucrats of their obligation to “adequately” enforce and deter breaches. He became unhappy after learning there was a towering pile of reports still waiting to be actioned at the time of publication.

“I met and spoke with the director general … about this report and senior executives. They are very mindful of what is required and where we need to go,” he said according to the media outlet.

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