The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, has directed the Shaanxi Mining Company at Gbane in the Talensi District in the Upper East Region to put in place all the required safety measures by the end of February this year.
The measures, he said, should take cognisance of the rules and regulations governing the mining industry, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directives.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh gave the directive when he paid a working visit to the company to acquaint himself with safety measures being put in place by the company to ensure that mining accidents are reduced to the barest minimum or completely eliminated.
The minister cautioned illegal miners in the area to desist from engaging in the practice. and warned that if they were caught under the law and prosecuted, they could go to jail for a minimum of 15 years or a maximum of 25 years while their equipment would be confiscated to the state.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Shaanxi Mining Company, Mr Maxwell Wooma, entreated the regulatory bodies in the mining sector to permanently seal off three out of the five illegal mining pits that were closed last year but have been re-opened by some illegal miners in the area.
According to him, that move would forestall the recurrence of mining accidents in the area.
The PRO said 80 per cent of the safety requirements had been completed and expressed the hope that by the end of February 2020 adequate safety measures would have been put in place.
At a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh announced that the Shaanxi company had been fined $40,000 after it was found culpable in an explosion that claimed the lives of 16 people near its concession on January 23, 2019.
The sanctions were slapped on the company after investigations conducted by the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission found the company liable for various infractions that resulted in the accident at its mining enclave.
The company was found culpable for storing explosives underground without the approval of the Chief Inspector of Mines, a development that was a clear violation of regulations 163 of the Legislative Instrument (LI) 2177.
Additionally, the company was fined for failing to ensure that the safety code for blasting was approved by the Chief Inspector of Mines, and not recording blasting that was undertaken on January 22, 2019, in the shift boss logbook.
The company was also fined for appointing a supervisor who could not communicate to his patrol team in the language they understood in line with Regulations 56(3) of L.I 2182.
It was also sanctioned for not having blast time notices in the Gbane Community.