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Court Orders World�s Largest Gold Producer to Pay $140,000 for Death of Miner at Belle Mine

by Vittorio HernandezInternational Business Times
December 23rd, 2011

The Perth Magistrates Court fined Barrick Gold on Thursday $140,000 for the death of miner Daniel Williams in August 2009. Mr Williams fell into an ore chute at the underground mine of Barrick's Kanowna Belle gold mine near Kalgoorlie.

Barrick is the world's largest gold producer. The company pleaded guilty to charges of failing to provide a safe work environment under the Mines Safety Act.

Mr Williams, 26, was not wearing a harness even if he was working in the mines with man-sized holes. Because his death was caused by an omission and not a deliberate act, the court did not mete Barrick the possible maximum penalty of $400,000.

Sharon Russell, the mother of the miner, said she was satisfied with the court's decision, but stressed her son's life has no price tag. She flew from Christchurch in New Zealand for the Thursday sentencing.

"I don't want any other parent to have to get a phone call like I got, to have to bury their child, that's not the way it's supposed to be," The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Ms Russell.

Magistrate Geoff Lawrence pouted out that the accident was a foreseeable, hazardous situation that happened because of the inadequate safety measures in Barrick's mines.

Since Mr Williams' accident, Barrick had put in place new safety standard for its miners. Barrick was also ordered by Mr Lawrence to pay the court cost of $1,200.

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