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Mine deaths: Shaanxi, Yenyeya and Pubortaaba mining companies fined $50,000

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe

The Shaanxi Mining Company Ghana Limited, located at Talensi in the Upper East Region has been fined $40,000 after it was found culpable in an explosion that claimed 16 lives near its concession.

The sanctions were slapped on the company after investigations conducted by the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission found the company liable for various infractions that resulted in the accident at its mining enclave.

The company has been fined $10,000 for storing explosives underground without the approval of the Chief Inspector of Mines, a development that is in clear violation of regulations 163 of LI 2177.

In addition, Shaanxi Mining Ghana Limited has been fined $10,000 each for failing to ensure that the safety code for blasting was approved by the Chief Inspector of Mines and not recording blasting that was undertaken on January 22, 2019 in the shift boss logbook, respectively.

The company was further fined $10,000 for appointing a supervisor who could not communicate to his patrol team in the language they understood in line with Regulations 56(3) of L.I 2182.

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More sanctions

The Minister of Land and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, who announced these sanctions at a press conference in Accra Tuesday March 26, said Yenyeya and Pubeortaaba mining groups had also been jointly fined $10,000 for not having blast time notices in the Gbane community.

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Mr Asomah-Cheremmeh also directed that Mr Asibi Seidu, the foreman at the centre of the blast should be dismissed immediately for abandoning his post without permission

He also directed that a known miner in the Gbane community, Mr Kwasi Appiah should be sanctioned severely for allowing his dug pit in his compound to be used by illegal miners to access the underground workings of Yenyeya and Pubortaaba leading to the fatalities.

“In addition, Mr Emmanuel Osman and Akurugu Vanga who conducted blasting on Level two on January 22, 2019 shall be suspended for three months without pay for failure to conduct proper risk assessment prior to the blasting in breach of Regulation175 of L.I 2177,” he said.

Key findings

Throwing some lights on the findings of the investigations by the Minerals Commission, Mnr Asomah-Cheremeh said the explosives used in blasting on January 22, 2019 that led to the accident had not been recorded in Shaanxi Mining Ghana explosives record book.

In addition, he said the company’s safe work procedure for blasting had not been endorsed by the Inspector of Mines as required by law.

“In addition, the company’s blast men did not conduct risk assessment prior to the blasting while the foreman who was to supervise the blasting operations underground due to the absence of the substantive shift boss left the crew unceremoniously,” he said.

Among other things, the investigations revealed that Shaanxi Mining Ghana Limited, Yenyeya and Pubortaaba mining groups did not have blasting time notices posted in the Gbane community.

“Adequate warnings were not given before the blast went off, in clear breach of Regulation 193(e) of L.I 2177. There was also inadequate pre-blast inspection since some of the illegal miners were allegedly hiding underground but the inspection team did not detect their presence,” he said.

Directives

As part of the recommendations by the investigators, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh gave a one-month ultimatum to the owners of Yenyeya and Pubotaaba mining groups to appoint competent persons to oversee the activities of the support service company, Shaanxi Ghana Mining Limited.

He also directed that all illegal mining pits in the Gbane community that link the underground workings of Yenyeya and Pubortaaba should closed immediately to forestall any future occurrence of an accident.

“All prospecting companies namely Cassius Mining, Savannah Mining Ghana Limited, Shanxi Mining and Mineral Processing Resources Ghana Limited, who were all given portfolios of the Gbane-Datoko de-blocked small scale mining areas should be given a maximum of six months to complete all negotiations on transfer of licenses or any mining interests of small-scale miners,” he added.

He also directed that no small scale mining concession should be allowed to be within large scale mining concessions.

Mr Asomah-Cheremeh also asked Shaanxi Mining Ghana Limited to immediately employ additional shift bosses and mine captains to supervise the activities of the company latest by April 30, this year.

Background

On January 23, 2019, Some 16 miners died after an explosion within the mining concession of Chinese company, Shaanxi Mining Ltd in the Upper East Region.

The tragedy happened at dawn while workers of the company based in the Talensi district blasted explosives in an effort to mine.

The mining concession belonged to Shaanxi Mining Company, but the illegal miners tried to enter it through a different route. Read more.