The Ghana Chamber of Mines has urged the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to make the findings of the Committee tasked to probe the Appiatse explosion public.

This is in response to the Ministry’s caution to the Chamber to learn from the tragedy in order to improve on mine-related safety measures.

President of the Chamber, Dr. Eric Asubonteng, believes full disclosure of the Committee’s findings will equip members with the information they need to make better safety decisions in the future.

He spoke at a conference for the Chamber of Mines held in Kumasi.

The meeting brought together members of the Chamber of Mines, relevant stakeholders in the mining industry and officials of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

Appiatse explosion: Chamber of Mines calls for full disclosure of Committee’s findings
Deputy Minister of Natural Resource, George Mireku Duker

Deputy Minister of the Sector, George Mireku Duker, admonished the Chamber to put in efforts to minimize the negative impact of mining on the environment.

“I wish to implore you to always be mindful to design and conduct your operations to secure optimal net benefit not only for yourselves but also for the citizens of your host country, over the long term, while making conscious effort to minimize the negative social and environmental impacts so that mining does not become an example of privatizing benefits and socializing costs,” he said.

The recent tragic incident at Appiatse that claimed some innocent lives was among topics of discussion at the conference.

Mr. Duker implored the Chamber of Mines to learn some strategic lessons from the incident.

“The recent incident at Appiatse is still fresh in our minds. And unfortunate though it was, it presents us with the opportunity to deepen our sense of responsibility across all levels of mining operations so that we don’t get to erode the gains made,” he said.

Appiatse explosion: Chamber of Mines calls for full disclosure of Committee’s findings
President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dr Eric Asubonteng

Reacting to this, the President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dr Eric Asubonteng, said the Chamber would demand full disclosure of the investigation outcome to help them avert a future ‘Appiatse’ recurrence.

“…we don’t want what happened at Appiatse to happen again, and we think that the only way is to learn the lessons from it. What will be even more important is to get full disclosure or full release of the outcomes of the investigations or the investigations report. That’s very important so that we can all grasp the full lessons that will come out of the investigations.

There is another investigation led by Mr. Ben Aryee, which was conducted under the umbrella of the Ministry, and we would want to appeal to you (Minister) that the full report of that investigations will also be shared with the Chamber, so that we can know that we have left no stone unturned in trying to learn lessons from the APpiatse disaster”.

Dr Asubonteng said continuous constructive collaboration must exist between the two parties to ensure sustainable mining operations.

“There is still a long way to go, if not for anything at all, when we have reputational challenges in the mining industry, people are unable to differentiate between the large scale and small scale so they lump us together,” he said.

Dr Asubonteng continued that indeed there is a joint committee that has been formed with a representative from the Chamber and from the Ministry that focuses in addressing these key challenges that we continue to face in the industry.

“…It is one of the initiatives that ensures that the industry is not faced with surprises, we see things coming we get the opportunities to make an input and to ensure that whatever initiatives that are put in place to address those challenges are ones that address the challenges in a very fundamental way.”

Being Responsible

While acknowledging the economic contribution of the mining sector, Mr Mireku Duker said being ‘responsible’ also includes taking right decisions, complying with requirements, being accountable and liable to regulatory review.

He said mining practitioners must adhere to responsible mining principles as it presents a number of benefits including; reducing local conflicts and thereby buying social license, preventing, or at least minimizing, environmental impacts, facilitating access to financing because of lower perceived risk by financial markets, and making business sense, by improving the bottom line.

The challenges facing the sustainability agenda of the mining sector in Ghana are complex and can only be addressed through collaboration among government, the private sector and other social partners.

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources says it will continue to engage the chamber to find common grounds on issues that are of mutual concern notably;

  • Optimizing the tenure of export licenses
  • Management of the factors affecting; encroaching unto your concessions, security at the mines, the high cost of exploration and delays in approval and renewal of exploration permits
  • Facilitating local refining of gold and other value addition initiatives and…
  • Optimizing local content and positioning it within the government’s industrialization program