- aggress to pay an additional US$5m for damages
The Spanish company that owned a truck that exploded and killed 13 people last month en route to an internationally-run gold mine in western Ghana violated storage and transport laws and has been fined US$1million, the Lands Ministry said on Tuesday, reports Reuters.
The government gave Maxam a US$1million administrative fine for breaching regulations and imposed a US$5million fee for damages – to be paid out in monthly instalments, the statement said.
The truck owned by Maxam was transporting explosives to the Chirano gold mine, run by Toronto-based Kinross Gold Corporation, when it collided with a motorbike, caught fire and exploded – levelling a roadside village and injuring at least 100 people.
Maxam, which has 140 subsidiaries in more than 50 countries, did not respond to emails or calls requesting comment.
“The ministry has established regulatory breaches on the part of Maxam… in respect to the manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives,” the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said in a statement.
It did not provide specific details about which laws were broken or how they contributed to the accident.
Two local firms, Jocyderk Logistics and Arthanns Enterprise and Transport Services, are being investigated for possible ties to the explosion, the ministry said. The actions of unspecified officials are also being reviewed.
Eight witnesses told Reuters at the time that the truck was on fire for 45 minutes before it exploded – in which time residents were allowed to walk to the scene to take photos and videos without police or firemen holding them back.
They said that it was left for the truck driver to warn residents to leave the scene immediately.
Police said that the truck had been travelling with a police escort, which warned people to move away ahead of the blast.
The ministry at the time ordered the suspension of Ghana’s chief inspector of mines, who is responsible for supervising explosives-use in the sector.
In a related development, Maxam in a press statement said the explosives were being transported in a vehicle by a subcontractor, Arthaans Logistics, when the tragic explosion occurred at Appiatse – while Maxam itself has an unblemished record over more than thirty years of supplying explosives to the mining industry in Ghana and neighbouring countries.
Maxam recognises the importance of its products for the value that Ghana and other countries derive from their natural resources, notably gold, and will continue to work with the mining industry and subcontractors involved in the transportation and use of these explosives to ensure safe handling and use.
Maxam has been deeply saddened by the road accident and loss of lives, injuries and extensive damage to property suffered by the Appiatse community. Our hearts go out to the community members.
Maxam has noted the findings made by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources from its review of the tragic road accident and its assessment of how to avoid a recurrence. The ministry has determined that there were certain breaches by Maxam in its operations and has imposed a fine of US$1million on the company.
None of these breaches cause the tragic road accident, and all of them relate to the transport carried out by Arthaans Logistics.
Based on a different interpretation of the applicable regulations, we believe that Maxam has not committed any of those breaches; however, to ensure continuity of the business, to be able to supply our customers, to protect the employment of our workers and sub-contractors, Maxam has decided to pay the fine and will comply with the measures specified by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
Given our commitment to Ghana and its welfare, Maxam has agreed to the payment of an additional US$5million or its cedi equivalent. We are indeed saddened by the incident and we express our heartfelt sympathy to Ghana, particularly, members of the Appiatse community for the loss of lives, property and livelihoods.
Maxam will ensure it is in full compliance with the new regulatory measures announced by the ministry, and will continue to conduct its operations in accordance with the laws of Ghana and international best practices. Maxam wishes to emphasise its sympathy with the Appiatse community.