The Minerals Commission has indicted five persons for their alleged complicity in the mining disaster at the Yenyeya and Pubortaaba underground mining concessions at Gbane in the Talensi District in the Upper East Region, on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.
Shaanxi Mining Company is also to pay a total of $40,000 (cedi equivalent), while Yenyaya Mining Group and Pubortaaba Mining Group are to pay $10,000 (cedi equivalents) for various mining breaches of the Mining Law.
The Technical Team of the Inspectorate Division of the Commission, which investigated the incident, recommended the dismissal of Mr Asibi Seidu, Shaanxi’s Foreman, for abandoning his post without permission and for allowing illegal miners to use his pit in his compound, to access the underground workings of Yenyeya and Pubortaaba, leading to the fatalities.
An illegal miner, Mr Kwasi Appiah (alias Kwasi Bantama), who allowed his pits to be used as point of entry into the underground workings of the companies, is also to face the full rigours of the law.
The Committee also recommended the dismissal of Mr Thomas Tii Yenzaya, the Underground Mine Manager of Yenyeya, for allowing the use of explosives, which he did not record in the explosives storage books.
Mr Emmanuel Osman and Mr Akurugu Vanga, who conducted the blasting on that fateful day, are also to be suspended for three months without pay, for failure to conduct proper risks assessment before their action for breaching Regulation 175 of Legislative Instrument L.I. 2177.
At a media briefing in Accra, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who read the 25-point recommendations, said the Ministry had adopted the report and would implement them in due course.
The Minister, however, explained that those indicted were not employees of the Ministry, therefore, their employers would be informed accordingly to take the necessary actions against them.
The incident claimed the lives of 16 illegal miners on the underground workings of Yenyeya and Pubortaaba in Gbane in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region.
The Technical Team made a number of recommendations to forestall a future occurrence, key among them, was the need for Shaanxi Mining Ghana Limited, a mining services firm that conducted the blast, to ensure thorough search to make sure there were no illegal miners underground before initiating a blast.
The Technical Team of the Commission was tasked to establish the cause (s) of death of the 16 illegal miners, ascertain whether there was a breach of standard operating procedures for the blasting or not and find out whether there was any negligence or omission involved or not, and impose appropriate sanctions, if necessary.
It was also to institute corrective and preventive measures to avert future accidents.
On the day of the incident, some illegal miners entered the underground concessions of the two mining groups through pits individually owned by Kwasi Appiah, Kofi Macho, Issah and Abacazor, before the blasting happened.
Shaanxi, however, provides mining services to small-scale mining operations and offers services to Yenyeya and Pubortaaba in the Talensi District.
Therefore, it was Shaanxi, which carried out the blasting, on behalf of Yenyeya and Pubortaaba, at 2200 hours, which resulted in the victims inhaling the fumes from the blast fumes.
The miners reportedly entered the underground pits of the two mining companies unnoticed, therefore when the Shaanxi team inspected the pits at about 2330 hours, they arrested eight illegal miners and handed them over to the Police.
Some of the trapped miners were, however, rescued by their colleagues and later admitted at the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital for medical treatment.