MAC: Mines and Communities

Xstrata appeal angers victims' families

Published by MAC on 2005-01-29

Xstrata appeal angers victims' families

January 29 2005

ABC News

The decision by mining giant Xstrata to appeal against convictions resulting from the 1996 Gretley Mine disaster in Newcastle in New South Wales has angered the families of the four miners who died.

The Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) convicted two companies and three mine officials of more than 50 breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the first time in the mining industry's history that individuals had been successfully prosecuted.

Xstrata, which acquired an interest in the two companies, lodged its appeal on Friday.

Chief executive officer Peter Coates says the IRC's interpretation of the law makes it difficult to comply with mining legislation and makes it hard to attract people into management roles when they may be exposed to prosecution.

But Ian Murray, whose son Damon was one of those killed, says it is disgraceful that Xstrata wants to cause more distress for the families.

"All the talk from the company was that this would be the end of it, now they've reneged on that," Mr Murray said.

"This is the ninth year that they've dragged the matter on and on - the decision's been made ... they should cop the umpire's decision and let us get on with life."

The appeal has been lodged even before the IRC decides what penalties to impose in relation to the convictions.

The matter has been listed for a call-over with the Court of Appeal on February 7.

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