Inquiry launched into mining pit disasters

Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman, who has responsibility for natural resources, has been mandated by President David Granger to launch an enquiry into the collapse of mining pits that have resulted in death of or injury to miners.

According to a press release from the Ministry of the Presidency, the inquiry is to be conducted by a multi-stakeholder committee. The committee who will work independently, but is authorised to request any relevant information from any employee of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, through the Commissioner, in order to carry out its functions.

The five-member committee will comprise individuals knowledgeable and competent in their respective fields, including officials from the Ministry of Social Protection (Labour Department), Ministry of National Security and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, the release said.

A report of the committee’s findings is expected to be submitted to Trotman by July 31, 2015. The report is also expected to include recommendations for immediate and long-term actions in addition to areas for subsequent investigations.

The release stated that safety in the mining sector is of paramount importance to the administration. It noted that in recent times, there had been several reports of mining pits collapsing as well as other incidents resulting in the injury and some cases, deaths of miners.

The decision to enquire into mining pit disasters may have been sparked by last month’s tragedy in which ten miners died at Pepper Creek, Konawaruk. Michael Gardener, 26; Brian Brittlebank, 46, of Wismar; Linden and Raymond August of Dartmouth, Essequibo; Leland Jones and his nephew Jason Trotman; father and son Glen aka Frank and Vic Bernard; Trevon Philips and Esmond Martin all perished when the pit rapidly caved in from the top, covering the crew and their equipment.

It was later reported that the holder of the Mining Permit and the operator had been at odds and that attempts to have the operator cease working in the pit had been met with a legal injunction.

The Ministry of the Presidency press release said it was noted that regulatory agencies such as the GGMC are restrained by orders of the court from executing their mandate that in many instances may have prevented injury and the loss of life. It added that human capital is of pivotal importance to the sector and the country as a whole, and cannot be lost to what may appear to be avoidable situations.

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