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Collaboration, a crucial step on the road to improving health and safety

Yesterday, over 300 health and safety experts and mining and metals executives brought the ICMM 2012 Health and Safety Conference in Santiago, Chile to a close.

The three-day conference saw over 60 speakers from ICMM member companies discuss topics such as leadership, worker health programs, community health management, safety in operations and eliminating fatalities.

"The last three days have been a successful exercise in sharing lessons learned and good practices that will certainly have a positive impact on how we move forward in the health and safety space," said Anthony Hodge, President of ICMM.

The conference was opened by the Chilean Minister of Mines, Mr Hernán De Solminihac, who hailed ICMM for its efforts to raise the industry's performance in sustainable development.

"The mining industry has multiple challenges, such as the health and safety of its workers. Our government's concern in this issue was heightened following the San José Mine accident," he said. "President Sebastián Piñera has asked us to work intensely to address this issue in a holistic fashion, by considerably increasing the number of site-level audits, the training of safety monitors and ensuring mine sites comply with national regulations."

Thomas Keller, CEO of Codelco - the world's biggest producer of copper, also spoke at the opening ceremony on behalf of ICMM's Council of 22 CEOs. "For Codelco, it is no longer enough to deliver the resources that benefit all Chileans, we must also play an active role in improving international sustainability standards. We are here with our fellow ICMM member companies and associations to find ways of improving how we take care of our employees".

The second day of the conference featured speeches from Cynthia Carroll, CEO of Anglo American; Charles A. Jeannes, President and CEO of Goldcorp and Anthony Hodge, President of ICMM.

During her speech Cynthia Carroll encouraged delegates to share knowledge, good practices and lessons learned with colleagues from all over the world. "The mining industry faces significant challenges which can only be successfully tackled if we as an industry operate to the highest standards. In my experience, a strong health and safety performance translates into a strong business performance. The communities in which we operate should benefit from our presence in a sustainable way and - above all - our workers must be safe," she said.

Charles A. Jeannes presented an overview on efforts to improve the industry's health and safety performance. "For effective safety, we need effective leadership. That is why we are all here and I look forward to sharing what we know and learning from your experiences in the next three days."

In a video message, Richard O'Brien, CEO of Newmont Mining Corporation said, "As a global organization that brings together industry, government and international organizations, ICMM provides a critical forum to help us improve the safety performance of our industry by learning from each other and using our collective knowledge to make a difference."

After two days of keynote sessions and workshops, the delegates gathered with CEOs to reflect on the outcomes of the conference and identify necessary next steps.

"Good health and safety performance is a leading indicator of a well-managed business," said Red Conger, President of Freeport-McMoRan Americas. "The last few days have given me and the rest of the Freeport team ideas to take home and implement and we will continue in our efforts to share what we learn with the ICMM community".

A report of the conference and the presentations made during the event will be made publicly available on the ICMM website before the end of the year.

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