‘We were not negligent in the killing of our staff’

The management of Shaanxi Mining Company has explained the circumstances under which a staff of the company was killed in an underground mining accident on Friday October 19, 2018, at Gbane in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region.

In a statement issued on Wednesday October 24, 2018 and signed by the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Maxwell Wooma, the company said Baan Kolbil, the deceased, was performing his duty as a member of the hoisting crew at Vertical Shaft 4, Level 7.

His duty, according to the PRO, was to open the pocket at the shaft bottom for ore to be loaded into it for hoisting.

“In the course of their schedule, the bucket was returning from surface after a tip. The Supervisor of the crew returned to Level 7 in the bucket and alighted at the station. Mr. Baan, being the last man at the tailboard (pocket), alerted his supervisor to ring the bell for the cage to be lowered into the tailboard for ore loading. In the normal schedule, Mr. Baan was to only open the chute for ore to pass into the bucket and be hoisted.

According to his Supervisor, he rang the bell to be lowered as demanded by the Mr. Baan, and began to walk to supervise other members of his working gang above the pocket.

Shortly after the bucket was lowered, he heard Mr. Baan screaming from the bottom of the shaft. Upon realising he was pressed down by the same bucket he had called for, the Supervisor called for the bucket to be lifted and, subsequently, together with a rescue team, brought him to the surface.

The matter was reported to management and he was subsequently rushed to the Regional Hospital, Bolgatanga, for treatment. Unfortunately, he was confirmed dead before arrival.” The statement said.

Mr. Wooma said as stipulated in the regulations governing of the mining industry, management reported the fatality to the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission, who arrived the next day (Saturday 20th October, 2018) and commenced investigations through to Tuesday 23rd October, 2018.

He also said the Criminal Investigations Department of the Upper East Regional Police Command also thoroughly investigated the incident and caused the conduct of an autopsy on the body at the Regional Hospital, Bolgatanga.

Management is awaiting the outcome of the investigations of both the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission and the police.

The statement indicated that management of the company officially informed the family of the late Baan Kolbil the same Friday of the accident. It stated that pathetic though, the family has peacefully cooperated with management throughout the hospital and police processes till date.

Reacting to some media reports that another accident involving some staff of the company leading to choking of the said staff.

“We state without equivocation that no such incident such as ‘choking’, ‘explosion’ or ‘gassing’ of any person has occurred in our mine. As stated above, Inspectors of Mines have been to our site, have thoroughly assessed our mine, and no incident of such have or was realised or observed. It is worth noting that the perilous operations of illegal miners around our model mine continue to pose threats to our mine. Our company has become the convenient alibi in cases of disasters in their illegal operations. Media reportage from such incidents must, therefore, be convincingly clear in matters of these illegal miners and their continuous disastrous operations in the Gbane mining site.” The statement explained.

According to management, within the past one week, the company has arrested over fourteen illegal trespassers whose objective is often to steal ore after the company’s underground blasts. According to the company, it has made lots of complaints of these illegal intrusions into its underground workings to the regulatory authorities.

“For emphasis, the fatal accident on Friday is purely an accident and cannot be said to be as a result of an unsafe condition of our mine.”

Management empathized with the bereaved family and said it was committed to making sure it followed due processes to comfort them in these trying times.

The body of the victim was on Thursday interred at his family house at Namolgo village.

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