Appeal into WA mine death acquittal

WA’s Department of Mines and Petroleum won its appeal against mining contractor HWE Mining Pty Ltd in Perth’s Supreme Court last Friday.

The court ordered a retrial after upholding the department’s appeal against the acquittal of HWE Mining Pty Ltd, charged with failing to provide a safe work environment, causing the death of 19-year-old Adam Sargeant.

The charges were brought against the company after an investigation into the death of Mr Sargeant who was an apprentice with HWE Mining, which was contracted at BHP Billiton’s Yandi iron ore mine at the time.

At about 3:30 pm on 4 September 2008, Mr Sargeant was driving a light vehicle when it was involved in a collision with a large haul truck.

He was recovered from the vehicle, but later died as a result of his injuries.

State Mining Engineer Simon Ridge said there were no winners from such a tragedy, but it was important that if evidence indicates companies have breached their legal obligations to keep employees safe they should be pursued through the courts.

“As a department, this is what we do and will continue to do,” he said.

The department is also pursuing a prosecution case against BHP Billiton Iron Ore Pty Ltd relating to the same incident which is yet to be heard by the Magistrate’s Court.

The department is currently conducting three prosecutions and a further 11 that are pending.

The Supreme Court judgement can be accessed via the Supreme Court of Western Australia website.

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