A Senior Manager for Mining AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine, Stephen Asante Yamoah, has observed that the order on Maxam Ghana Limited to suspend operations in Tarkwa is going to have an adverse effect on mining operations in the country.
He stated that majority of extractive companies depend heavily on Maxam for their explosive materials.
“So now whatever safety lapse that doing this period is left, we need to close them. So for now if there is an explosive still sitting in a hole, which when detonated can cause damage to the environment and other things we need to make sure all is safe. And this will be followed strictly and under the supervision of the site manager and the workers who will be on site”.
Nevertheless, he agrees that measures including the shutdown order should be instituted to ensure that all is well.
“We are in agreement with the directive from the Minerals Commission… it is in their capacity as the regulator to take action. Secondly, the action is for the safety of the public and the site. So we will work closely with the Minerals Commission and the Chamber of Mines and other explosive suppliers in the country to ensure that the impact is reduced…” he said.
His remarks followed a prohibition notice for the mine support service company – Maxam Ghana Limited – to suspend operations at its Tarkwa production site.
Western Region Manager of the Commission Isaac Mwinbelle explained that the order is only in conformity to what the Minerals and Mining regulations require to be done when such mining disaster happens.
“As part of our investigations and processes and also as part of the requirements of the Minerals and Mining regulation LI 218 (2) [Health and Safety Technical regulations and LI 217 (7) [Explosive regulations] when we think that there is further harm that could be caused as a result of the operating of any site, the law allows the inspector to close down the site and ask all workmen are removed from site to ensure the safety of the workers, the safety of the site and the safety of the general public”.
He added: “Even though the explosion did not happen here, the site ought to be closed down because this is the source of the material, this is where the explosives were manufactured, where they are stored and transported to the various sites… so we must get to the source. So we are stopping them so that we can complete all investigations into the matter and whatever the recommendations that come out, we then make them public”.
Mr. Mwinbelle maintained that the order is not to suggest or pronounce the company guilty but only to satisfy the law.
“The closure should not be misconstrued as pronouncing the company guilty. We are just following the law. We are still going through investigations. Remember the Police are also doing their investigations at the spot. Till we put all these together, look at what the requirements are, then we will be able to tell who is culpable and who is not. But at this stage, it is not possible for us to say that this person is culpable or not.”
He stated that to ensure that the company complies with the directive “we are going to assign two officers who will be on this site both morning and night because the site runs day and night”.
“The site manager will also be required to stay on site and that it is his duty to offer remedial actions which will ensure the safety of the explosives and the skeletal people who will make sure that the site is safe…”