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Going for Gold

The processes required to mine precious metals dictate the management of a variety of major accident hazards. Consequently, the successful delivery of a robust and comprehensive risk management programme is a critical business performance indicator  

As the fifth largest gold mining company in the world, the Placer Dome Mining Corporation is committed to delivering world-class performance in the areas of managing health, safety, the environment, community-care and employee welfare.

To assist Placer Dome in achieving their corporate objectives, DNV consultants have conducted comprehensive management systems reviews for the company in Canada, South Africa, the USA and Chile. These system reviews have been supported by Leadership Risk Management workshops and training courses for senior managers throughout the Placer Dome organisation. Further comprehensive system reviews are planned this year for mines in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Placer Dome's safety directors Tony Anderson and John Scott have a long association with DNV. As early as 1997, they both recognised the benefits of DNV's International Safety Rating System (ISRS). These safety management and rating systems were taken on board by the Asia Pacific region of Placer Dome in 1997 after a thorough evaluation of other system audit tools available in the region.


A spectacular mountain backdrop greets visitors to the Placer Dome Cortez Mine in Nevada USA


Placer Dome's Walter Benko (far left) and Tony Anderson (third from left) working together with DNV consultants to develop a risk based customised audit/improvement protocol


Drop in injury numbers
"We felt that the ISRS was a better choice to meet our needs because they allow us to control the programme. Also, they come with introductory training and support, provide us with a map that assists with identifying the way forward, and help us identify our priorities and areas for management attention," says Tony Anderson. He continues: "Starting at safety levels around zero and one, the Asia Pacific sites have since progressed to rating levels five and six. With this progression there has been a consequent drop in injury numbers, resulting in a decision in 2002 to use the ISRS as the measurement tool across all of Placer Dome's sites worldwide. We have noticed that sites which have used other audit tools, or have not been audited before, are returning levels at zero or one. Typically the same as sites in Asia Pacific when the protocols were first introduced."

Good collaboration
The use of these systems has significant impact on the operations and overall site safety. "Now sites are actively using the ISRS audit reports and documents to assist the development of their programmes. Internal auditors find the protocols simple to use and report that the extended guidelines are of invaluable assistance," adds Tony Anderson.

Keith Ferguson, Placer Dome's vice president for safety and sustainability, underlines the benefits of cooperation with the DNV consultants, saying: "DNV made a significant contribution to improving the safety management systems in Placer Dome in the last year. The ISRS audits were well-managed and helped us prioritise our improvement plans. We look forward to working with DNV throughout 2003 to complete the reviews at our operations worldwide."

Tony Anderson adds: "We are very happy with the assistance, support and level of expertise provided by DNV in the area of systems auditing, coaching and development."

The Placer Dome/DNV collaboration has resulted in a joint working initiative to develop a risk-based customised audit/ improvement protocol for the organisation. DNV consultants and Placer Dome personnel have formed a development team to work together to ensure that DNV's major hazard experience and Placer Dome's mining expertise are fully optimised


Placer Dome

is the world's fifth largest gold mining company and largest gold producer in Australia, pursuing quality assets around the world. Its core gold business is strengthened by the contributions of its copper and silver assets.

Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, the Placer Dome Group (PDG) now has interests in 18 mines employing 12,500 people in six countries around the world.

PDG is also actively involved in major exploration and construction activities on a global scale. With a market capitalisation of US$4.7 billion as of December 31, 2002, Placer Dome is traded on the New York, Toronto and Australian Stock Exchanges, as well as Euronext-Paris.

Placer Dome expects to produce 3.5 million ounces of gold, 427 million pounds of copper and 4 million ounces of silver in 2003.

Date: 08 January 2004
Author: John Kristian Norheim Lindøe
Source: DNV Forum no. 3, 2003