The Tasmanian coroner has criticised Beaconsfield Gold for deficient work safety practices but was unable to find that any person or the mine company was directly responsible for the death of miner Larry Knight in 2006.
In findings handed down this morning, coroner Rod Chandler said there were lessons to be learned from Mr Knight's death in a rockfall at the mine in northern Tasmania on April 25, 2006.
Two of Mr Knight's fellow miners, Todd Russell and Brant Webb, were trapped underground for two weeks following the rockfall before being rescued.
Mr Chandler was critical of the mine management's assessment of the dangers of seismic activity following substantial rockfalls in October 2005.
He said the mine had failed to properly respond to these or assess the risk of further rockfalls.
"The risk assessment process was particularly deficient in that it failed to ensure that a comprehensive and independent reassessment of the ground support system was undertaken," Mr Chandler said in Launceston.
"It is my view that the likelihood of Mr Knight's death occurring would have been reduced, perhaps significantly, if Beaconsfield Gold had undertaken such an assessment.
"A lesson to be learned from Mr Knight's tragic death is the critical importance of proper risk management practices to worker safety, particularly in the mining industry."
Mr Chandler was also criticial of Beaconsfield Gold for ignoring the expert advice of several mining consultants that its ground stability procedures were deficient.
Mr Knight's partner, Jacquie, and his brother Shane were in the courtroom. Lawyers for Mr Knight's family had asked for a finding against Allstate Explorations and Beaconsfield Gold, its parent company.
Outside court, Shane Knight said he was disappointed with the coroner's finding.
"I believe Larry, Brant and Todd should never have been sent in to 925 level knowing the conditions were as they were,'' Mr Knight said.
"If they [the mine] had had a proper risk assessment done, changes would have been made.''
Mr Knight said the three years since his brother's death had been difficult for the family and he did not know whether the completion of the coronial inquiry would bring closure.
National secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Paul Howes, said the finding did not go far enough and the union was disappointed those in charge of safety at the mine were not held responsible for the accident.
But Mr Howes said safety improvements had been made at the Beaconsfield mine.
"If that rockfall had happened today, the three men would not have been caught in that rockfall on level 925 and Larry Knight would not be dead,'' he said.
Beaconsfield Gold said it was pleased with the coroner's finding that no one directly contributed to Mr Knight's death but said it was disappointed and strongly disagreed with his condemnation of their risk assessment.
Beaconsfield Gold chief executive officer Bill Colvin said the coroner failed to acknowledge the extensive risk assessment process undertaken by the mine following two rockfalls in October 2005.
"Contrary to the comments made by the coroner, there was rigorous risk assessment, the mine did vary its ground support systems and changed its mining method," Mr Colvin said in a statement from Perth.
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