News & Events

Minister Breen launches new Mine Safety Regulations at Tara Mines

Compliance with Health and Safety Regulations in the sector simplified

Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD visited New Boliden Tara Mines (commonly known as Tara Mines) in Co. Meath today.

The Minister met with miners, management and the broader industry to officially launch the new Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018. The new consolidated regulations draw together the various provisions previously spread over 20 pieces of legislation, making it easier for all those involved in the sector to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.

The key changes in the new Mines Regulations are:

  • Consolidating over 20 different pieces of legislation into one comprehensive statutory instrument.
  • Taking many previous duties away from the ‘Mine Manager’ and clearly placing these duties on the corporate entity or ‘Mine Operator’.
  • Allowing the operator to develop their own rules, schemes and procedures specific to the mining operation.
  • Clearly defining the duties of the mine owner, operator and everyone in the management structure, in relation to health and safety.
  • Increasing the requirements on reporting of dangerous occurrences.

Speaking at the mine today Minister Breen, whose remit covers workplace safety, said:

“I would like to thank the management at New Boliden Tara Mines for hosting this event today. I am very pleased to officially launch these new regulations with miners and mine management present. This is an important moment for all of the mining industry. In revoking and replacing the old legislation, some of which dated back to the 1960s, we have delivered a modern, simplified and consolidated statutory instrument that will make compliance much easier.

I believe that these Regulations will help to support the development of Ireland's mineral resources in a socially responsible manner. I believe it is important to recognise the economic contribution that mineral extraction can make, including the provision of well-paid secure jobs in rural areas that often have limited employment opportunities.”

Pat Griffin, Senior Inspector for mines and quarries with the Health and Safety Authority said:

“Safety and health standards at the Irish underground mining industry have generally improved over time with significant reductions in lost time accidents. We believe that these consolidated regulations will simplify compliance for existing and indeed future prospective mining operations. It will be far easier for mine operators to refer to one single text when considering legislation that applies specifically to mining activities. Underground mining can be a safe, healthy and rewarding career choice when operators, contractors and workers take on their responsibilities as set out in the consolidated regulations.”

Tara Mines is the biggest zinc producer in Europe and the ninth largest zinc mine in the world. Approximately 90% of its revenue is from zinc with the remainder coming from lead and silver mineralization.


For further information contact Mark Ryan, HSA Press Officer, 01 6147068 / 0868036141

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Editor’s notes

Tara Mines

Tara Mines has been in production for over 40 years and is nearing the very significant milestone of 100 million tons of mined ore, containing over 6.5 million tons of zinc metal and almost 1.5 million tons of lead metal.

The surface footprint is approximately 2km x 3km but has almost 600 km of underground tunnel development within this footprint.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations, SI 133 of 2018

The most significant improvement to note from the enactment of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 is that it consolidates regulations specific to Mines into a single comprehensive document, repealing or revoking an extensive list of statutory instruments as set out below;

  1. Mines and Quarries Act, 1965 (No. 7 of 1965)
  2. Employment Equality Act 1977 (Employment of Females on Underground Work in Mines) Order 1989 (S.I. No. 153 of 1991)
  3. Mines (Safety Training) Regulations 1987 (S.I. No. 85 of 1987)
  4. Mines (Electricity) (Amendment) Regulations 1979 (S.I. No. 125 of 1979)
  5. Mines (General) (Amendment) Regulations 1979 (S.I. No. 279 of 1979)
  6. Tara Mine (Winding) Regulations 1977 (S.I. No. 14 of 1977)
  7. Mines (General) Regulations 1975 (S.I. No. 331 of 1975)
  8. Mines and Quarries (General Register) Regulations 1974 (S.I. No. 97 of 1974)
  9. Mines (Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Regulations 1973 (S.I. No. 153 of 1973)
  10. Mines (Electricity) Regulations 1972 (S.I. No. 51 of 1972)
  11. Mines (Explosives) Regulations 1972 (S.I. No. 123 of 1972)
  12. Mines (Fire and Rescue) Regulations 1972 (S.I. No. 226 of 1972)
  13. Mines and Quarries (Notification of Diseases) Order 1971 (S.I. No. 61 of 1971)
  14. Mines and Quarries Inquiries (Draft Regulations) Rules 1971 (S.I. No. 219 of 1971)
  15. Mines (Locomotive) Regulations 1971 (S.I. No. 238 of 1971)
  16. Mines and Quarries Act 1965 (Commencement) Order 1970 (S.I. No. 73 of 1970)
  17. Mines (Managers and Officials) Regulations 1970 (S.I. No. 74 of 1970)
  18. Mines and Quarries (Reference) Rules 1970 (S.I. No. 75 of 1970)
  19. Mines and Quarries (Notification of Dangerous Occurrences) Order 1970 (S.I. No. 76 of 1970)
  20. Mines (Surveyors and Plans) Regulations 1970 (S.I. No. 78 of 1970)
  21. Mines and Quarries (Birth Certificates) Regulations 1970 (S.I. No. 110 of 1970)

The Regulations further provide that the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Extractive Industries) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 467 of 1997) no longer apply to a mine as defined in Regulation 3 of these Regulations.

The repeals and revocations order associated with the enactment of these Regulations also means that the 2013 and 2016 amendments to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations, 1997 now also apply to Mines in relation to pressure vessels and the reporting of dangerous occurrences, although there are a number of additional reportable dangerous occurrences specific to Mines within the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Mines) Regulations 2018 specifically give duties to the Owner of the Mine, the Mine Operator and the Mine Manager. While the “Mine Manager” continues to have duties and responsibilities, there is generally a greater level of duty now placed on the “Mine Operator”.

The regulations require the Mine Operator to develop mine specific Rules, Schemes, and operating procedures in the following areas;

  • Vehicle and traffic rules
  • Ventilation rules
  • Ground support rules including procedures in relation to manual scaling and dressing of roadways and places of work
  • Emergency rules and procedures
  • Hoisting rules
  • Inspection, maintenance and testing schemes
  • Mines training scheme
  • Operating procedures to secure the safety and health of persons at work and the safe use of work equipment
  • Operating procedures for excavations, tips and lagoons
  • Plans of all permanently installed electrical equipment at the mine, Rescue, Working and Ventilation plans
  • Procedures in relation to personal flotation devices
  • Scheme of training for rescue work
  • Shot-firing rules and Scheme of transit for explosives

Because the Regulations are based around the development of the above they allow the Operator of the Mine to develop, rules, schemes and safe working practices specific to the operation of a particular mine without unnecessary prescription and also to develop a Management Structure that reflects the operation of a particular Mine.

The Regulations also re-transpose, in relation to mines, the relevant provisions of Council Directive 92/104/EEC2 of 3 December 1992 on the minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers in surface and underground mineral extracting industries.

The Regulations apply to all mines where persons work and set out duties on the owner, operator, manager and employees at a mine with respect to persons at or in the area immediately surrounding a mine. The Regulations came into operation on 30 April 2018.