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Talensi Rock Union Outline Root Causes of Death At Gbane Mining Site   
 
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09-May-2019  
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The Talensi Rock Union – a registered development NGO of the people from the Talensi District has outlined facts, root causes and suggested recommendations of the mining disaster at Gbane in the district.

On 23rd January 2019, a mining disaster at Gbane in the district broke the hearts with the loss of 17 small scale miners, unprecedented in the annals of mining in Talenteng since reserves of gold in the area were found.

"We are putting forward this press release to outline the facts and the root causes and to suggest recommendations as an interest group to halt future disasters of this magnitude for all stakeholders’ action," the statement read.

Below is the full statement:

Dear Sir/Madam,

RECENT LOSS OF LIVES AT GBANE MINING SITE IN TALENSI DISTRICT IN THE UPPER EAST REGION

Introduction:

The Talensi Rock Union – a registered development NGO of the people from the Talensi District whose interest and objectives among others in the Traditional Area are to: promoting formal Education of the Youth through scholarship awards, support medical care for the Aged in the Talensi Area, Promote Environmental Sustainability and Guide the youth to acquire employable skills for the job market has been following the recent happenings and developments in the mining disaster at Gbane in the Talensi District.

New Development

The resignation of Hon. Rockson Bukari as Minister in the Presidency following the leaked tape making the rounds in social media is the latest development about the activities of Shaanxi Mining (GH) Mineral Processing Company and other small scale miners and the disaster at Gbane in the Talensi District early this year is a matter of concern.

As you are aware on 23rd January 2019, a mining disaster at Gbane in the district broke our hearts with the loss of 17 small scale miners, unprecedented in the annals of mining in Talenteng since reserves of gold in the area were found.

We are putting forward this press release to outline the facts and the root causes and to suggest recommendations as an interest group to halt future disasters of this magnitude for all stakeholders’ action.

As noted above shortly, the 2019 disaster of January, is calling us into action. We are aware of previous several small scale miners who have lost their lives due to improper mining practices and this was a blow to families and the people of Talenteng. This year’s accident is the heaviest.

Fact 1: Key Players in Small Scale Mining at Gbane Gold Reserve Site

The key players at the Gbane Gold Reserve site are currently eight (8) and listed below:-

1.       Pobuataba/Yenyeya Mining Enterprise/Shaanxi Mining (GH) Mineral Processing Company Limited

2.       Bantama Mining Group

3.       Gbandayire Small Scale Mining Group

4.       Obuasi Mining Group

5.       Sugatabaa Mining Group

6.       Timaretaaba Mining Group Limited

7.       Unique Mining Group

8.       Nanlamtaaba Enterprise

 
Fact 2: Conflict over Gold Resources due to overlapping/trespassing of concessions. 

Pubuataba/Yenyeya(P&Y) and Kwesi Bantama were the original owned one  concession prior to  Pubuataaba/Yenyeya obtaining a small scale mining license from the Minerals Commission in 2008 to the exclusion of Kwesi Bantama. It is worthy to note that each party in the concession owned its pit until by consensus they decided to consolidate them.

Later, prior to 2012, Pubuataaba/Yenyeya brought in a Chinese firm (Shaanxi) to provide technical services in mining and processing  to them.  This incurred the displeasure of Kwesi Bantama who depended virtually on manual processes of obtaining the ore with its associated low productivity.

This was the origin of the conflict and this conflict has persisted from 2008 to date between P&Y on one the hand and Kwesi Bantama on the other with the latter accusing P&Y of encroaching and plundering his concession.  The conflict even became more intense when Shaanxi persistently used its aggressive superior technology to trespass into almost all other groups mining areas underground. Pubuataaba/Yenyeya/Shanxi has plundered into almost nearby concessions of other groups such as Unique Mining Group, Kwesi Bantama, Obuasi Mining Group, and Timaretaba underground.

This resulted in persistent tension at the mine site since 2008. The action taken by the aggrieved parties is that they have also sunk pits to intersect the drives created by P&Y/Shaanxi. The cause of the disaster of 23rd January 2019 was primarily suffocation of the 17 miners in the Kwesi Bantama pit who were caught by the noxious fumes from P&Y/Shaanxi blasting underground as a result of gas leakages.  

Fact 3: Occupational Health & Safety Issues

An estimated number of 650 employees work for the eight (8) small scale mining entities and of this number:

•        Less than 20% have mining designated hard hats with search light pots;

•        Less than 20 %  have Steel-cap boots to protect their foot;

•        Less than 10% have ear plugs;

•        Less than 30% have Reflective vest

•        None have equipment for poisonous gas detection such as carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxide;

•        Only 12% of the players have a cage for transporting  staff in and out of the shaft; the rest use either rope ladder or  make shift stairways  made from timber

•        Less than 50% have  goggles for the protection of their eyes;

•        Tailings are disposed-off in a less engineered Tailings Storage Facility and thus not optimizing  protection for human safety and not according to international best ‘practices

•        Oil and grease in liquid effluent was in excess of 20mg/l and total suspended  solid also in excess of 50mg/l

All of the above shows that, the concern for health and safety of the staff/employee of entities at the Gbane Concessions only meets less than 25% of the international best practice on health and safety and this is very deplorable. This calls for an immediate site audit to review their modus operandi and enforce the standard operating procedures.

Fact 4: Environmental Sustainability and livelihood issues

The eco-system within an area in excess of 8 kilometer square has been damaged and which could take several years to reclaim. Both fauna and flora are stripped off due to indiscriminate excavations turning the current land to almost bad land of desert status. Acacia plants whose fruits and leaves used to be delicacies to animals are scarce to locate as a result.  Notable species of birds such as the wild guinea fowls and quails have no habitat any more in the environment. In short the nature of the degradation of the land is spelt out as follows:-

•        The land degradation is worsen by the indiscriminate land grabbing which started in 2004 and continues to date.  “Hearsay” on gold found in specific locations, known in local terms as “pit proofing” leads to mad rush to grabbing and indiscriminate excavations. Desertification is a reality if no action is taken now to organize and streamline the activities of miners in the Gbane area. Our team of investigators focusing on P&Y/Shaanxi operations were denied access to see their erosion and sediment control structures. However, observation around their area of operations did not depict any international best practice engineered erosion control structure either. This request was based on the fact that P&Y/Shaanxi deployed cyanidation for Gold Extraction and an expected tailing storage facility. 

Fact 5:  Miners wellbeing conditions at P&Y/Shaanxi:

The teaming youth with very little employable skills have trouped to Gbane from Bawku, Sandema, Navrongo, Bongo, and Bolgatanga, to seek for jobs and to make money from the Gbane Mining Area aside the local resident youth themselves. Their working conditions were found to be deplorable.

•        Average take home pay is GHS200.00per/month. This gives a daily living wage of GHS6.600/day. This is only 62.6% of the National Minimum wage of GHS10.65

•        Workers are not cared for when sick and are denied pay for sick leave.

•        No compensation plan for families of workers who suffer permanent injuries and incapacitation

•        Personal Protective Equipment to workers is very poor or invariably non-existent as indicated earlier

•        88% of the employees across mining players use rope ladder to descend into their workstations underground

•        No First Aid points for injuries and accidents or ambulance and most victims of accidents are transported in ram-shackled taxis that ply the area from Bolgatanga.

The Talensi Rock Union six (6) “Asks” or “Relieves” are as follows

1.       Giving the above outline of facts gathered from what is happening at Gbane Gold Reserve Site in Tongo, we recommend a multi-sectoral team made up of the following government agencies and their recommendations should be directed at streamlining the activities of key players at the site. The identified agencies are:-

a.       The Minerals Commission and its Inspectorate Division

b.       Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources

c.       Mine Workers Union  of the Trade Union Congress

d.       Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service

e.       Water Resources Commission

f.        Environmental Protection Agency

g.       Ministry Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation

h.       The District Assembly.

i.        GRA

j.        Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations

1.       A formal communication should go out to all players at the Gbane Mine Area to regularize their activities with the various governmental stakeholders in copy. The Minerals Commission should lead in issuing the directive.

2.       Environmental Protection Agency should review the impacts of prospecting or mining entities with a focus on

a.       Water quality ( surface and underground)

b.       Disposal of tailings

c.       Disposal of liquid and solid waste

d.       Sewerage sludge disposal

e.       Mine reclamation plans

f.        Erosion and sediment control plans

3.       Water Resources Commission should produce verifiable data on water quality for both surface and sub-terrain that depicts the current state the Gbane Mining Area as compared to international best practice for sustainable prospecting or mining activities.

4.       Ghana Health Service may consider up-grading a nearby Health facility to the Gold Mining Area to offer speedy first aid and stabilization for accident victims from mining and other mishaps.

5.       We recommend  a well-executed multi-sectoral action plan on the above points, in our view would streamline operations of entities at the Gbane Mining Area to curtail future deaths, improve or enhance occupational health and safety for the teaming youth and promote environmentally sustained mining as a pre-occupation.

We count on your earliest newscast/publication of this release as agreed with your esteem organization.

Yours faithfully,

 
Godwin Sebil Bade-Daamir

(Chairman: Talensi Rock Union-Accra Branch)

 CONTACT PERSONS FOR FURTHER DETAILS

1.       Godwin Sebil Bade-Daamir (Chairman)-  0242179277/0209607112

2.       Dickson Kpelemetime (Secretary) - 0243072781


 
 
Source: Peacefmonline.com
 
 

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