Abdul-Moomin Gbana- General Secretary of Ghana Mine Workers’ Union

The Ghana Mine Workers’ Union has called for a full-scale tripartite (Government, the Ghana Chamber of Mines, and Ghana Mineworkers’ Union) investigation into the frequent occurrences of mine accidents, for a more sustainable panacea to the issue.

The Union has also urged the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, and by extension the Minerals Commission and its Inspectorate Division, to as a matter of urgency conduct a thorough investigation into the recent underground accident that saw three of its valued members working in the same area trapped, out of which two managed to escape and one still missing since Tuesday May 18, 2021. 

“The Union will also want to use this opportunity to renew its call and advocacy on the need for government to prioritize the ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 176 (Safety and Health in the Mines Convention) in order to further tighten and align the industry’s health and safety regulatory framework to globally acceptable standards”, it said in a statement.

This is coming after AngloGold Ashanti announced the suspension of operations at its Obuasi mine, over a missing staff.

“Globally, activities around mining in general are risky but the level of risk exposure doubles when the operation is underground. It is against this backdrop that the industry is heavily regulated in terms of occupational health and safety standards and best practices”, it said.

Furthermore, it said “Ghana as a prominent hub of mining in Africa has not fared badly in regulating the formal subsector of its industry but in recent times, a notorious trend of mine accidents and incidents with its consequential fatalities happening in some of the underground operations, particularly AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi Mine, and its surrogate Underground Mining Alliance that has claimed three precious lives since June 2020, are becoming a blot on the enviable record chalked up by Ghana, especially after the structural adjustment programme in the 80s”.

As a trade union organization that has for 75 years sought the protection and welfare of workers in the industry, it said it takes an uncompromising opposition to these worrying and preventable fatalities that are shedding the blood of innocent workers in atonement for the profiteering motives of these multinational corporations.

The union therefore pointed out that it will not countenance any more of these avoidable deaths and shall therefore not hesitate to withdraw its services if urgent and robust steps are not taken to eliminate and prevent these needless accidents from becoming a recurrent feature of the workplace.  

AngloGold Ashanti suspends Obuasi operations over missing staff

AngloGold Ashanti reported last week “with deep regret”, that an employee of its mining contractor at the Obuasi Gold Mine in Ghana, is “missing after a fall of ground in one of the operation’s mining stopes”.

In a statement, the miner said the incident occurred on Tuesday morning and “immediately triggered a search and rescue effort”.

“The mine rescue teams have been working tirelessly in difficult geotechnical conditions in the immediate area, to locate our missing colleague”, AngloGold Ashanti said.