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General News of Friday, 5 May 2017

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Lands minister orders Shanxii mining to stop work following tragedy

Lands and Natural Resources minister John Peter Amewu has directed Shanxii Mining Ghana Limited in the Upper East region to stop work following the tragic death of seven miners.

The death of 35-year-old Samuel Bang, an employee of the Shaanxi mining is the latest addition to six other deaths reported in the area since May 2013.

Bang was buried alive while drilling. The pit in which he was working suddenly caved in.

It took the search party close to 24 hours before his body was retrieved following what the company has said was an accident.

“It is purely a mining accident. It is not a case of gas inhalation where someone has failed to do hazards assessment, " Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Shaanxi Mining Company Mr. Maxwell Wooma has said.

Underground mine manager at Shanxii Mining Thomas Tii at a media briefing said the company is cooperating with the BNI which is investigating the circumstances that led to the death.

"Yesterday we were invited by the BNI [and] this morning we stopped operations underground".

But the tragedy appears to have become a rallying point for protest by some youths in Talensi who have accused the company of negligence.

The accusation of foul play was brought to the media's attention by youths in Talensi who have constituted themselves into a pressure group, Concerned Citizens of Talensi.

At a press conference last Tuesday, they listed a litany of complaints against the company which is a mine support service firm providing services to two licensed small scale miners at Gbane.

They say the death of the 35-year old is the seventh since 2013.

A report by Today newspaper has said in 2015, 16 miners working for the company were rushed to the Upper East Regional Hospital after inhaling what was suspected to be a poisonous gas from a mining explosion.

In April 2015, two miners died and eight were critically injured from the gas of an explosive substance, the paper has reported.

On Wednesday April 2, 2014, two miners were allegedly gassed to death and one severely injured. In October the same year, three miners lost their lives when a mining pit collapsed on them.

Another tragedy was reported to have occurred in May 26, 2013, when three small-scale miners suspected to be intruders from another concession perished after a gas from an explosive engulfed a tunnel that belonged to Shaanxi Mining.

The Concerned Citizens of Talensi have questioned the credibility of the company and demanded that it be removed from the area.

They described the Chinese-owned company as 'wicked' and their operations 'illegal'.

"...even though, the Minerals and Mining (Support Services) Regulations 2012, LI 2174, seeks to preserve Mining Support Services to only Ghanaian local companies, Shaanxi Mining Ghana Ltd, has been allowed and shielded to operate.”

They claimed the mines support company is actually into mining and has trespassed into other mining concessions, triggering clashes with other small scale miners.

However, at a media briefing yesterday, operators of the Shanxii mining company insisted that they could not have caused the deaths of the miners.

Meanwhile workers of the Shanxii mining company are unhappy about the indefinite closure of the company. They have been expressing their frustrations to Joy News.

"I am very, very sad. This work is helping this town a lot more than the galamsey (illegal) mining", a female employee said.

She said deaths over the years have been caused by the intrusive activities of illegal miners.

"They have created a hole linking to Shanxii Mining causing their own death" she told Joy News' Albert Sore.

Pleading for a resumption of work, the employee told Joy News, "please we are on our knees...me like this, I don't think I can survive [ if the company remains closed]"