The state mining regulator will assess the Ballarat Gold Mine's management amid concerns of safety breaches and doubts about its rehabilitation facilities.
The announcement follows allegations from current and former mine staff of an unsafe work environment at the mine.
In a media release, Earth Resources Victoria's regulation executive director Anthony Hurst said the "competency" of the licensee will be assessed - the gold mine was taken over in September 2019 by a Singaporean company, which has been renamed Shen Yao Holdings.
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"We're examining the competency of the licensee to run a mine, their status as 'fit and proper' and their ability to meet their site rehabilitation liabilities," he said in a statement.
"We'll continue working with the licensee to understand their forward mining strategy and provide guidance on the relevant regulatory requirements."
"We're working to ensure the risks associated with mining at the Ballarat site are minimised and the necessary controls are in place."
The release states "The professional reputation, competence, diligence and judgement of Balmaine Gold (the mine's parent company) as the licensee will also be considered. Mining licensees must also demonstrate to the regulator their capability to fund site rehabilitation liabilities and mining operations".
Following reports of alleged safety breaches, it's understood Worksafe inspectors and union representatives repeatedly visited the mine to investigate.
Worksafe was unable to confirm if anything was found.
"WorkSafe has visited the site to ensure occupational health and safety obligations were being met," a spokesperson said in a statement.
"Victorian employers, including those in mining and other regulated industries, must take every reasonable step to protect both the physical and mental health of workers.
"WorkSafe can and will take enforcement action when employers do not meet their obligations under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations."
The Courier has been seeking information regarding alleged safety breaches and incidents since July, and was unable to confirm the story as Worksafe could not answer any specific questions.
Australian Workers' Union safety officer Nick Blackford said union members had reported "serious concerns" over the past few months, in regard to alleged mine collapses and equipment failures, and safety testing and reporting.
"We've got huge concerns that these guys aren't doing the right thing, across the workplace, not just below the ground," he said.
"The big one is the risk of another mine collapse, there's genuine concerns and the (workers) have told us that.
"We genuinely believe it's a matter of time before something dangerous happens, and we don't want to see the mine close, so many families would be affected, the town would be affected."
The regulator will also investigate plans for expanding tailing facilities - that is, space where waste rock can be stored.
"Earth Resources Regulation has directed Balmaine Gold to prepare an independent rehabilitation liability assessment to provide an up-to-date understanding of rehabilitation liabilities for the site," the release states.
"Rigorous planning is required to run a mining operation including proper storage of rock waste and mine tailings. In the medium term, an inability to store tailings and waste rock has the potential to impact production.
"In March 2021 Balmaine Gold applied to the regulator to store tailings adjacent to the current facility. The regulator assessed that the risks associated with the storage were not adequately addressed in the application, which had substandard technical information and rehabilitation plans.
"In May 2021, the new operators were also issued a notice requiring them to stop using a waste rock dump at the site. While the matters in notice are being addressed, operations can continue with the mine utilising other areas which have been approved to store waste rock."
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It's understood the mine is also working with the City of Ballarat on a new site.
The gold mine employs more than 100 people, and dozens more subcontractors.
A representative for the Ballarat Gold Mine declined to comment at this time on the investigations or allegations.
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