07:58 pm, Tuesday 29 September, 2009
Some 700-800 workers have stopped work over the weekend at a major iron ore project near Karratha after potentially Hazardous Asbestos was found on site.
Workers digging trenches at the site had found rocks seemingly laden with asbestos.
Asbestos-ridden dirt may also have been used as landfill at the mine, and around the mine’s camp area.
The Australian Manufacturing and Workers Union had contacted WorkSafe to have the matter investigated, but had been told no WorkSafe inspector would be available in the Pilbara for the next month.
“The Minister for Mines needs to get WorkSafe to halt work at the mine and order an immediate investigation to ensure the lives of workers are not put at further risk by exposure to deadly asbestos material,” a spokeperson for the AMWU said.
A spokesman for the iron ore project said most WA iron ore mining operations contend with the issue of Fibrous Materials and the company had procedures in place to manage such risks.
With an expected life of at least 25 years, the iron ore project is forecast to mine two billion tonnes of ore and export 27.6 million tonnes of high-grade pellets and concentrate each year to steel mills in China.
The Project employs 1700 staff and contractors on site, in Perth, and overseas.