Sep 07, 2015 News
– as Min. of Natural Resources makes appeal for more care and caution
Calling for more caution by mining sector workers, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment has signalled that recommendations for safety in the mining sector have been submitted and will be made public “in the short term.”
This comes on the heels of the Commission of Inquiry, which was launched into the deaths in the mining industry and in particular deaths from mining pit collapses on July 1st.
According to a release from the Natural Resources Department, “efforts are ongoing to address the implementation of some of these recommendations.”
In the interim, however, the Department urged all mine operators and workers to exercise due caution in their operations, adding that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has also been mandated to strictly enforce the regulations governing the operation of mines and the safety of mines workers.
The COI into cases of mining accidents was launched after the mortality rate for gold miners recorded a spike on May 17th last, when a Mowasi, Potaro mining pit collapsed, killing 10 miners.
Statistics released by the Ministry of Labour early in the year 2015 show that the mining sector recorded 10 deaths for the year 2014, included two separate incidents of drowning at the same creek, claiming three lives.
But the collapse of the 40ft deep pit, ensured that the mortality rate for 2015 shot past corresponding periods for 2014. The dead were listed as Leyland Jones, 38, called ‘Foots’ of Grove, East Bank Demerara, who was the gold operations General Manager; his nephew Jason Trotman, 21; of Samatta Point, Grove Housing Scheme; Raymond August of 229 Bent St, Dartmouth, Essequibo; Bobby Brittlebank of 98 Wislock Housing Scheme, Linden; Michael Gardner of Better Hope, ECD; Sheldon and Orlando Clario; Desmond Martins; Trevon Phillips and Nanmore Kurt.
In a herculean effort spanning an entire week, rescue workers braved rain and impassable terrain in an effort to reunite loved ones with the bodies of their ill fated family members.
The incident was of such a horrific nature in terms of casualties that a team of officials from the Guyana Geology and Mines (GGMC) and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association (GGDMA), traveled to the site.
The next month, just a few days before the COI was announced, Orlando Archer, 25, died in a mining pit collapse at Jumbie Creek, Potaro.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon had stated at the time that the Inquiry would not just cater for mining pit collapses, but casualties of differing natures occurring in the mining sector.
The COI was chaired by Dr. Grantley Waldron, and had as its membership representatives from the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and the Ministry of Social Protection. Its technical advisor was Jo Bayah.
It is expected that through this Inquiry, immediate and long term interventions to enhance the health and safety for miners will be implemented.
The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has set out several safety guidelines that mining operators are expected to adhere to. Whether they are enforced by the majority of operators is another matter entirely.
But there have been calls for the Ministry of Labour to get more actively involved in the mining sector, in terms of ensuring underage miners are kept out of the industry and those who can legally mine follow the safety regulations.
In addition, several persons from within the industry have expressed the need for increased training and education exercises to be conducted, in order to sensitize and arm miners with the knowledge to survive in what is arguably the most hazardous sector in Guyana.
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