Exploded quarry in Shama was operating illegally - Minerals Commission

Exploded quarry in Shama was operating illegally - Minerals Commission

The Minerals Commission has said the quarry, which exploded at Kobenandohkrom in the Shama District of the Western on Sunday was operating illegally.

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The commission said mine inspectors noticed that the company was working at night ostensibly to prevent them from being noticed by the inspectors of the Commission and the local task force comprising the police and members of the sand winners and quarry association.

A routine monitoring visit by the inspectors from the Takoradi Office of the commission to the site revealed that the enterprise was engaged in site cleaning and preparatory works and had conducted run of the machines and equipment on site without the approval of the Commission.

In a statement, the commission said its preliminary investigations confirm that the site of the explosion is a subject of an application by a company with the name STA Addsams Enterprise.

An explosion at the STA Addsam quarry mine, formerly Omini Quarry, in the Shama District in the Western Region, has killed four persons and left many injured. 

Many night workers, believed to be Chinese and Ghanaians, were burnt beyond recognition, while others, including the managing director (MD) of the company, are still missing.

Those who survived were rushed to the various hospitals in the district and Sekondi.

A fuel station and the only health post in the area were not spared, as the blast caused extensive damage to countless structures and compromised the structural integrity of many buildings.

Sunday’s incident is the second to hit the Western Region in less than two years after an explosion wiped out Appeatse in January last year.

The explosion is said to have occurred at about half past midnight yesterday from an unapproved storage for explosives.

Checks by the Daily Graphic from multiple sources revealed that the explosives were being kept in an adjoining facility to the residence of the workers of the company without permit from regulators, contrary to the law governing the acquisition, storage and use of explosives. 

Suspicion

The sources suspected the MD to be one of the four Chinese who could not be accounted for.

The sources alleged that when the driver of the MD arrived at the site last Saturday, the MD asked him to sleep in the car but he decided to walk home to sleep and return to work the  following morning.

They said the driver returned to the site yesterday morning only to hear that the MD’s vehicle was part of the vehicles destroyed by the explosion.

“The only way you can tell if the MD is around is when you see his car, and his car is among the properties destroyed in the blast,” a source said. 

It explained that the Chinese nationals were sleeping in an apartment outside the quarry until they built a residential facility at the mines where they all sleep.

Asked if the mine had the right to store explosives, the source said, “when it comes to explosives, officials of the Minerals Commission come and make sure that we use what we can and if we are not able to use all they take it away.”

The source said the quarry might have procured the explosives from the open market on the blind side of the regulator because the quarry does not have the permit to store such explosives.

Minerals Commission

When contacted, the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Martin Ayisi, said that the commission’s mine inspectors were carrying out investigation at the site.

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He described the incident as unfortunate and added that his team was working around the clock to establish what went wrong.

When asked whether the storage was permitted, he said that could be ascertained only after the inspectors had completed their investigation.

The District Chief Executive for Shama, Ebenezer Dadzie, also told the Daily Graphic that efforts were underway to recover those missing and ascertain the extent of damage.

Describing the situation as unfortunate, he said the District Security Council, which he chairs, could not readily disclose the number of injured persons and deaths.  

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He said the assembly and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in the district were in the community to take a closer look at the affected property and advise the victims accordingly.

Information gathered by the Daily Graphic also indicated that the company was storing the explosives illegally.

A source close to the company said the explosion did not occur in the process of blasting, rather the explosives were being kept in a room which was not a structured storage explosive magazine.

The source said owing to the poor handling of the explosives, it became charged and detonated, razing the quarry to the ground and causing havoc to the nearby communities.

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Rescue team

The Senior Fire Service Officer, Emmanuel Bonney,  who led the rescue team, said nine people sustained serious injuries and were receiving treatment at the hospital.

He said information made available to them indicated that four other Chinese workers who resided on the premises were missing.

Mr Bonney said preliminary findings indicated that there was storage of explosive materials — ammonium nitrate and fuel — which were not handled well, leading to the explosion.

EPA

The Regional Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), George Diawuoh, also said his outfit and other sister agencies were still studying 

MINERALS COMMISSION

PRESS STATEMENT

RE: EXPLOSION AT A QUARRY SITE IN ASSORKO IN THE SHAMA DISTRICT OF THE WESTERN REGION

The Western Regional Head of the Minerals Commission at Takoradi (the “Commission”) was notified by the Assemblyman of the Anto-Abosso area in the Shama District at about 11.50pm on 9th September 2023, regarding an explosion at a quarry site.

A team of Mine Inspectors from the Takoradi Office of the Commission arrived at the site of the explosion at about 6.45 am on 10th September 2023. The area of the explosion is about 1.5 km away from the nearest settlement, Kobenandohkrom.

The inspectors were joined by officials from other State institutions comprising NADMO, Environmental Protection Agency, The Ghana Fire Service, Ambulance Service, the Ghana Police Service and officials from the Shama District Assembly to inspect the site.

The Commission, after the preliminary investigations can confirm that the site of the explosion is a subject of an application by a company with the name Sta Addsams Enterprise.  The company has applied for a Restricted Mining Lease for granite commonly referred to as a quarry. The recommendation for the company to be considered for the grant of a formal lease was granted on 20th March 2023. At the time of the explosion, the company has not not issued a lease by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources.

Secondly, the site of the explosion is the residential facilities for the company. This included buildings and containerized structures. The inspectors also found at the site, empty drums believed to have contained diesel, other lubricants, cigarette pieces, oxy-acetylene cylinders were found at the scene.

Additionally, all the facilities including light vehicles and equipment close to the residential structures on site were destroyed and five (5) persons are confirmed dead and some injured persons were sent to various hospitals within Sekondi-Takoradi for treatment.

The administrator of the enterprise informed the inspectors that the company was working at night ostensibly to prevent them from being noticed by the inspectors of the Commission and the local task force comprising the police and members of the sand winners and quarry Association.

A routine monitoring visit by the inspectors from the Takoradi Office to the site revealed that the enterprise was engaged in site cleaning and preparatory works and had conducted run of the machines and equipment on site without the approval of the Commission.

The enterprise was therefore notified by the inspectors that such activities are illegal and was directed to cease any activity on the site until the lease is granted and all other permits and approvals for the storage, transportation and use of any substance to undertake operations are obtained.

In this regard, pending the completion of a full investigation into the cause of the explosion, the enterprise had no lease, approval or permit to undertake any activity or operation at the site.

Consequently, the activity of the enterprise was illegal. The Commission wishes to remind the media and the public that the Inspectorate Division is committed to ensuring that all quarry sites are licensed and all the requisite approvals and permits are obtained before operations are undertaken.

SIGNED

MANAGER

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