The government has fined three mining firms at Gbane in the sum of $50,000 after they were found culpable for a blast that claimed 16 lives in January.
The affected companies are Shaanxi Mining Ghana Limited, Porbataba and Yenyeya mining companies.
The Inspectorate Committee of the Minerals Commission which carried out the investigations slapped Shaanxi, a Chinese-owned mining group, with a fine which is the cedi equivalent of $40,000 for several breaches including appointing a supervisor who could not communicate to his patrol team in the language they understood, a breach of Regulation 508 of L.I 2182 and storing explosives underground without approval from Chief Inspector of Mines, a breach of Regulation 163, L.I 2182.
The company has also been penalised for failing to ensure that a Code of Safe Work Practice for blasting is approved by an Inspector of the Commission (Regulation 515 of L.I 2182) as well as failing to record the blasts that were undertaken on January 22 in the Shif of boss Log book, a breach of Regulation 47(10) of L.I 2182.
The committee also directed Shaanxi Mining Ghana Limited to sack two of its employees including the foreman, for abandoning his post during the blast.
The fact-finding committee also fined two locally-owned companies, Yenyeya and Portaaba Mining groups, the cedi equivalent of $10,000 for failing to have blasting notices in the Gbane community, in breach of Regulation 193(f) of L.I 2177.
On January 22, a loud explosion within the mining concession of Shaanxi Mining Ltd, a Chinese-owned company, left 16 people dead. Eyewitnesses said billows of smoke choked them to death.
The tragedy happened at dawn while workers of the company based in the Talensi district blasted explosives in an effort to mine.
Following the disaster, the Minerals Commission ordered the Chinese company to cease operations while the committee investigated the cause of the tragedy.
Addressing the media in Accra Tuesday, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Ansoma Kyeremeh, said the $50,000 fine was for breaches of the mining regulations that led to the death of the 16 illegal miners.
The committee in its report observed that neither Shaanxi Mining Ghana Group Ltd, Yenyeya Mining Group nor Portaaba Mining Group has blasting notices posted in the Gbane Mining Community which contravenes Regulation 193(F) of L.I 2177.
“They assumed members of the community are aware of the blasting times,” it said adding that “There was inadequate pre-blast inspection since some of the illegal miners were allegedly hiding underground but the inspection team did not detect their presence.”
The committee’s report further recommended prosecution of one Kwasi Appiah, the owner of Bantama mining, whose pit was used by the deceased illegal miners to connect to the concession of Yenyeya and Porbataba.
The committee further recommended the dismissal of Underground Manager for Yenyeya, Thomas Tii, “for using explosives which could not be traced in the explosives storage books to conduct blasting” in clear breach of Regulation 46 of L.I 2177.