Newmont fined over multiple fatality accident

Newmont Ghana Gold Limited and its engineering agent DRA Ghana Limited have been fined more than US$2.5 million following an accident that killed six workers on site in April this year, an enquiry report on multiple fatality accident has revealed.

On April 7, this year, Newmont Ghana Gold Limited reported an accident at its Ahafo Mine, which resulted in multiple fatalities. Six people died and four other workers of contracted company Consar Limited sustained various degrees of injuries.

Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, constituted an investigation team under the auspices of the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission to conduct an enquiry into the causes and circumstances leading to the accident.

On May 18, 2018, a copy of the Report of the investigation team was presented to the Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources.  The investigations, which took almost five weeks, came up with several findings which bordered on design, operational and managerial failures leading to the fatalities and casualties.

According to the report, ADR Limited has also been banned from undertaking any construction project management on any mining site in the country. The company has, again, been punished for operating at the Ahafo site without Mining Services Operation Permit which is a breach of a mining regulation.

As part of the punitive measures, the company will, for each day that it “had operated without the Mining Services Operating Permit, pay an additional fine of US$200.”

“Newmont Ghana Gold Limited for failure to ensure the safety of contractor employees working at the Ahafo Mine Site shall pay the fatally wounded and the injured employees the appropriate workmen compensation,” the report said.

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Recommendations

The committee presented its report to the Lands Minister on May 18, with 32 recommendations based on its findings.

Some of the recommendations include a call for Newmont Ghana Gold Limited Ahafo Mine to suspend DRA Ghana Limited from all their activities at NGGL Ahafo Mine for failure to ensure the absolute health, safety and security of their contractor employees.

The investigation report demands that DRA Ghana Limited be dismissed from undertaking any construction project management on any mining site in Ghana for its blunt disregard for safety.

DRA Ghana Limited shall be fined US$10,000 for operating at the Ahafo site without Mining Services Operation Permit (breach of Regulation 8(4 and 5) LI 2182 of 2012) and for each day that the company had operated without the Mining Services Operating Permit, an additional fine of US$200 shall be imposed.

NGGL shall immediately review its organisational structure to be consistent with operational responsibilities of the statutorily appointed managers to remedy the breach of the requirements under Regulation 35, LI. 2182 of 2012. For this breach, NGGL shall be fined US$10,000.

Reaction from Newmont

Reacting to the report, Newmont Ghana said it is working with the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission to address the matter.

In a press statement, copied to the B&FT, which welcomed the report, Alwyn Pretorius, Regional Senior Vice President, Newmont Africa said: “We appreciate the efforts of the Minerals Commission and other stakeholders in conducting a thorough investigation into the causes of this tragic construction accident.

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“We are all devastated by the loss of six colleagues and will carefully study the report so we may learn from the accident, address its findings and take steps to prevent this from happening again. We will work closely with the Minerals Commission to follow up on each of the instructions in their report. This tragic accident stands as a sobering reminder that we must forever remain vigilant in continually improving our safety culture.”

The company said detailed action plans will be developed to address the findings in the report and to integrate the lessons across its business, while also sharing those lessons with industry.

Construction work at the AME project remains suspended until Newmont and the authorities are satisfied that work can resume safely.

Newmont Ghana also reiterated that it continues providing support to the grieving families, as well as counselling to the employees of the construction contractor and the entire workforce at Ahafo.

The company indicated that it is also finalising a long-term, comprehensive and sustainable financial assistance package for the grieving families.

Consar is a contractor working under the supervision of DRA Ghana Limited, an Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Management agent of Newmont constructing a Reclaim Tunnel as part of the Ahafo Mill Expansion (AME) Project.

The employees were reportedly involved in pouring a mixture of concrete at the Reclaim Tunnel when the two-level formwork structure at the west end of the tunnel failed.

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