300 illegal miners in Ghana trapped to death in 2011 – Chamber

More than 300 illegal miners were trapped to death at various illegal sites of the country in 2011, Mr Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Mines said on Saturday.

He said the fight against illegal mining in the country needed a more radical approach and appealed to District and Municipal Security Councils to effectively collaborate with the National Security to “nip this despicable act in the bud”.

Mr Aubynn said this at 2012 inter-mine safety and First Aid competition held at Newmont Ahafo Mine plant site at Kenyasi number two in the Asutifi District of Brong-Ahafo Region.

Newmont Ahafo Mine, Owere Mines, Kinross Chirano Gold, Ghana Bauxite and Noble Gold representing the zone two participated in the competition on oral and practical aspects of safety and first aid.

Mr Aubynn said illegal mining continues to disturb the peace and safety environment that mining companies needed to operate, a situation which consequently slows down the sector’s contribution to the country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually.

He said over the years the Chamber of Mines had consistently highlighted the threat of illegal mining to the mining industry as well as the people involved in the practice in fringe communities but the political will to address the issue was not forthcoming as expected.

“The delay in arresting this menace has obviously emboldened these illegal miners who now cause havoc to the environment by polluting water bodies with mercury and other dangerous chemicals such as cyanide with abandon”, The Chief Executive Officer stated.

Mr Aubynn said the chamber had also noted with concern the involvement of some foreigners in illegal mining either by directly engaging in the menace or providing support to the illegal miners.

He said the mining sector continues to be a major contributor of value to the economy disclosing that in 2011, the sector returned about $3.1 billion representing 75 percent of their mineral revenue to the country.

In the same period the industry spent about $1.4 billion to procure goods locally for their operations, out of which $30 million was on electric power, $322 million on diesel and $771,920,186 was also on other inputs.

Mr Aubynn said the sector also voluntarily contributed an amount of about $43 million to its host communities and $1 billion to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) representing 27.61 percent of the total GRA collections last year.

He said by local purchases the industry created value for the local economy in addition to the royalties, taxes and import duties it paid to the government.

Between January and June 2012, mining companies are estimated to have paid about $140 million in royalties to the state, Mr Aubyn said, indicating that the amount represented about 19 percent increase over the same period in 2011 which was about $115 million.

This amount, he added, did not include other taxes such as corporate tax and PAYE and duties which were expected to be significant.

Mr Stephen Nathaniel Piedu, Chief Inspector of Mines at the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission, said the division had teamed up with the National Security sub-committee on Lands and Natural Resources to form a number of taskforce to deal with illegal miners.

This he said would go a long way to help curb the growing pollution of water bodies and air pollution as well as land degradation.

He said the inspectorate had opened its doors to prospective small scale miners to regularize their activities by registering so to enable them use appropriate technologies and scientific mining practices.

Mr Piedu said the inspectorate had directed all mining companies to produce their own emergency preparedness and response peculiar to their operations and in line with the World’s best practices.

He said the competition would go a long way to inculcate the sense of safety in the mining workforce and appealed to mining companies not to relent in their efforts at maintaining precautionary health and safety measures in their work places.

Mr Jeop Coenen, General Manager, Ahafo operations of the Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, said the company launched its safety journey programme in 2009 which involved going through awareness, consent, participation, ownership and integration.

He gave the assurance that Newmont Ahafo mine would continue to operate in a safe and responsible manner consistent with its value of demonstrating leadership in safety, stewardship of the environment and social responsibility.

Newmont Ahafo mine won the competition and will represent the zone in the national competition with 92 points and will represent the zone in the national one expected November this year.

Chirano gold placed the second with 84 points followed by Noble gold 82, Owere mines, 80 and Ghana Bauxite 63.3 points.

Source: GNA

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