View Comments

A lawyer representing a Norseman gold miner says the company had an “abundance” of safety procedures despite the death of a worker two years ago.

Rene Ponce, 59, was working underground at Central Norseman Gold Corporation’s OK Decline for his second day when he died while removing escape rise ladders on August 4, 2010. While there are no eyewitnesses to the accident, as Mr Ponce was working alone, the experienced miner of 36 years was believed to have fallen 10m underground.

He was found not to have been wearing fall-arrest equipment.

CNGC, which is under administration, appeared in the Kalgoorlie Magistrate’s Court on Monday after pleading guilty to breaching the Mine Safety Investigation Act by failing to provide a safe workplace.

However, the mining company has not been found to have caused Mr Ponce’s death through breaching the Act, after both the defence and prosecutors agreed to downgrade the charge in December.

State Solicitor Michael Jenkin said at the time of Mr Ponce’s death the company did not have a specific written procedure for workers to wear fall-arrest equipment while removing escape ladders. Mr Jenkin said the hazard was “patent” and “it was hardly a one-off incident”. He claimed if the procedure had been in place there was no doubt Mr Ponce would not have died as he had been wearing fall-arrest equipment for another job involving heights the day before his death.