In government’s quest to end mining-related deaths in the Gbane mining community in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region it had decided to seal all illegal pits in the area.
But some illegal miners have headed to court to restrain government from taking such action.
In April 2017, seven illegal miners died after inhaling blast fumes from their underground operations and on January 23, 2019, some miners were trapped by smoke, and 16 died after a blast by Shaanxi mining company.
The miners were reportedly using one Kwesi Appiah aka Kwesi Bantama’s pit to link Shaanxi mines to allegedly ‘steal’ gold ore.
A technical committee was subsequently constituted by the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission to investigate the cause of death of the 16 illegal miners.
citinewsroom.com has seen a letter addressed to the Upper East Regional Minister from the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources indicating a planned closure of illegal mining pits and shafts within the Gbane mining site.
In the letter dated 19th February 2019, the Sector Minister indicated that he has received the ‘’final report of the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission tasked to investigate the cause of the accident that claimed lives of our youths within the Gbane mining area in the Upper East Region on the 23rd January 2019…’’
It instructed that the following illegal pits should be sealed:
1.Kwesi Appiah (Kwesi Bantama)
2. Kofi Macho
3. Abacazor Dani (aka Taller)
The Bolgatanga District Officer (Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission) has also been tasked to also “scout around Gbane to identify additional/ any other illegal pits which need to be sealed.”
The Minister further expressed sadness about the fact that some illegal miners are still operating within those same illegally dug shafts which led to the unwarranted deaths on 23rd January 2019 and to avert any recurrence, directed that such pits be filled, closed and capped (cemented on top).
The letter scheduled 8th March 2019 for the day for the filling to commence under the supervision of the Minerals Commission, Military, Police and the Talensi District Assembly.
But those illegal miners cited in the Minister’s letter whose pits are scheduled to be filled, have through an ex-parte application on the 5th of March 2019 secured an order for an interlocutory injunction from a Bolgatanga High Court restraining the sectors agencies from “closing, sealing of the shafts of the applicants.”
Calls to end mining-related deaths at Gbane mining community
Civil Society Groups in the Upper East Region had made a clarion call on the Ministry for Lands and Natural resources and the Minerals Commission to enforce strict adherence to mining regulation at all times to avert future mining-related deaths at Gbane.
The lands and Natural Resources Minister John Peter Amewu in August 2017 ordered the Minerals Commission to close all illegal pits that connect to the Shaanxi mining company under the supervision of the Regional security Council (REGSEC), but this is yet to materialise.
The Northern Patriots in Research and Advocacy (NORPRA) on the January, 31,2019 at a press conference in Bolgatanga called on the authorities to nib in the bud the cause of such deaths at the Gbana mining area.