New Zealand Mines Rescue Position Statement on Sustainability
The New Zealand Mines Rescue Service safeguards people working in mines, tunnelling and related operations. Their health and safety in the face of emergency is our success. Our sustainability commitment includes supporting regions, and climate change action.
INTRODUCTION TO MINES RESCUE
The New Zealand Mines Rescue Service was established in 1930 to provide a response to mine site emergencies with well-equipped and trained mine rescue teams.,
Over the last 20 years our focus has sharpened towards preventing emergencies occurring in the first instance, which underpins our health and safety activities, induction training, and other specialist training. We are a very proactive organisation, and we now cater to a broad range of industries.
- “We have moved from being more of a bottom of the cliff organisation, to the top of the cliff” – Joe Edwards, NZ Mines Rescue Trust chairperson.
Mines Rescue’s ability to operate for long duration in irrespirable atmospheres is our unique point of difference from other emergency services and is an integral part of our organisation’s national significance.
Mines Rescue is a charitable trust with a commercial arm that focus’ on preventative training and services. This arm works in sympathy with the core Mines Rescue obligations under the Mines Rescue Act 2013 which is to supply emergency preparedness and emergency response capabilities for our stakeholders (open cast and underground mines and tunnels under construction) plus the wider New Zealand public. The wider public includes areas such as Auckland infrastructure projects, KiwiRail tunnels, underground power stations, service tunnels, hydro dams, abandoned mines, and road tunnels (Waka Kotahi assets).
Mines Rescue partners with other agencies, such as WorkSafe, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the National Emergency Management Agency and Regional Civil Defence Groups, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Police and St John. We also have strong relationships with emergency response and training equipment suppliers, and trades contractors.
Our sustainability themes
People are at the forefront of everything we do at Mines Rescue. Our commitment to sustainability embodies four themes:
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Engagement with our customers, partners, and others
- Regional development
- Climate change
Workplace health and safety, emergency response, and emergency prevention
Mines Rescue’s core business is people and their wellbeing, starting with our people. We have our own health and safety management system as it’s important to look after our people at the same time as we look after others.
We take a proactive approach to emergency preparedness and emergency prevention. That means active participation in developing and monitoring health and safety initiatives at sites.
Mines Rescue tailors our services to each customer’s needs. This includes risk assessments, and monitoring of health and safety systems, including emergency preparedness. Our specialist training includes health and safety inductions at sites, compliance training, the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and company policies / rules.
Our training exercises at sites cover a broad range of disciplines that are tailored to meet individual site requirements and the handling and use of emergency response equipment as well as the systems and processes in place to manage emergency events.
Mines Rescue makes a difference to people’s lives in the industries in which we work with a strong contribution to social sustainability.
People are at the core of emergency preparedness and response, and harm prevention at mining and tunnelling operations. To use an IT analogy, our focus on equipment, health and safety systems, and training is the hardware; our engagement with our customers and partner organisations provides the software.
In our business, there is a lot at stake, the wellbeing of all in our industry and people travelling in tunnels no less. For that reason, we place great value on face-to-face engagement, on the ground, to maximise our effectiveness in building people’s capability, and strengthening effective relationships.
Our drive towards in-person engagement must be balanced by managing our costs and operational efficiency, and, importantly, by playing our part in New Zealand reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The prevention of harm at mining and tunnelling operations has an enormous flow-on benefits to the economy and people in regions, though challenging to quantify. The Pike River tragedy exemplifies what can happen if things go disastrously wrong, the broadscale human cost of failing to prevent harm to the 29 miners underground has received major attention by the media, and government.
Our brigades are located at several sites across the country, which means that Mines Rescue staff live and work in regions, making a direct and indirect contribution to the communities in which we live and work.
This contribution includes working with other emergencies services to support a first response to other regional or nationally significant incidents, (e.g. natural disasters).
We participate in community events, open days and such occasions, as the opportunity arises. An example is the periodic emergency services get-togethers on the West Coast.
Mines Rescue operates nationwide, and that entails extensive air and vehicle travel to and from sites, and with that carbon dioxide emissions.
We support the goal of a net zero carbon New Zealand by 2050 and acknowledge the government policy settings needed to drive positive change. Mines Rescue must play our part towards New Zealand climate change action.
Our commitment is to minimise travel, where practicable, balancing that with the importance of face-to-face engagement with people on the ground.
Mines Rescue brigade members are based in Auckland, Waikato, West Coast and Canterbury to be close to most New Zealand gold and coal mines and tunnels under construction. To reduce our travel to sites, we also run our brigade training in Auckland, where more than half of our North Island brigade is stationed, in view of the city’s multiple tunnelling projects. Mines Rescue also runs brigade training sessions in Christchurch, to service the Canterbury region.
Our board meets twice a year online, and only three times a year in person, again, to balance the needs of face-to-face engagement with climate change action.
Ultimately, to manage our response to the climate change issue, we must measure our impact. Mines Rescue has undertaken an audit of the organisation’s CO2 emissions footprint to better understand our climate change impacts, and how to reduce them where practicable.
The initial audit aligns with the financial year and this will be repeated at the same time annually to trend emissions and capture improvements.