May 31, 2016 News
Safety in mining operations has again come under the spotlight with the death of a teenager.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources yesterday, it is with “deep regret” that it learnt of the unfortunate mining pit accident which resulted in the death of 18-year old Ramal Williams.
Police reported that about 18:00hrs on Sunday, Williams of 58 Miles, Mabura Road, was working in a mining pit at Konawaruk Backdam, Potaro, Region Eight, when it allegedly collapsed. The teen was trapped.
“Every effort was made to rescue and resuscitate Mr. Williams, but despite these efforts, he was pronounced dead on arrival at the Mahdia Hospital. Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Honorable Simona Broomes has been tasked by Minister of Natural Resources, Honourable Raphael Trotman, to immediately visit the area to ascertain the circumstances leading to the death of the miner.”
The team will also include representatives from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
“A Committee of Inquiry (COI) will also be launched to fully investigate the matter within 72 hours. The Ministry expresses its condolences to the family, colleagues, and friends of Mr. Williams.”
Mining deaths took front burner last year after 10 mining workers were killed on May 17 in Mowasie, Potaro, in one of the worst accidents in recent times.
The new administration immediately ordered a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) with a report that came to light last September revealing that 25 deaths had been recorded from 16 accidents within the previous 12 months.
Among the findings were that the principal causes of pit failure accidents were the neglect of safe mining practices, as well as shortcuts being taken in a bid to grab as much gold, in the shortest time possible.
From 2010 to 2015, a total of 62 miners, particularly young men, have died in the industry.
It was found that there was an absence of controls to make the mining wall area safe when miners washed the ore. This was coupled with the fact that a lot of miners were practicing shortcuts including the non-removal of overburden (waste earth deposited from digging operation), contributed to the mining pit collapses.
In addition, there was an absence of proper entry and exit points to the mine, making it almost impossible to safely escape when there is danger.
The report described the current operator-inspection system for wall cracks and instability as “woefully inadequate” since there was a lack of experience with mining pit requirements.
Among the recommendations put out of the COI findings to address this shortcoming was for operators to receive more “robust” guides and predictive tools.
In addition, the report noted, engineering support must be mandatory for these operations in order for it to even be continued.
Another recommendation was for all operations using earth moving equipment to file a plan. Noting that it is not enough for operators to just go out and dig, the report observed that plans must include everything- location of waste/overburden, tailings management plan, camp and other infrastructure around the mine.
The COI last year was chaired by Dr. Grantley Walrond with its membership comprised of representatives from the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and the Ministry of Social Protection.
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