The Concerned Youth of Talensi and relatives of the victims of the Gbane mine disaster in the Talensi District in the Upper East Region have called for the immediate withdrawal of the Shaanxi Mining Company from the district.
They alleged that since the company started operating in the district, 61 people had died through its operations.
“We want to state unequivocally that the community is tired of the frequent deaths of our people and for that matter, we cannot cohabit with them; they should pack and go. If not, we will advise ourselves,” he said.
Addressing a press conference at the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital Mortuary last Friday evening, the Vice-President of the Concerned Youth of Talensi, Mr Bismark Azumah, said the company intentionally used strong explosives that contained toxic gas on that day to kill the people
He indicated that the company had no regard for basic safety precautions, thereby endangering the lives of people.
He claimed the company hardly served public notice before blasting mining explosives and that the least it could have done was use a vehicle to make public announcements of the impending blast.
Mr Azumah also blamed public institutions which had failed to prevent mining-related calamities in the community since the arrival of the company over a decade ago.
He said the community had never seen any recommendation from any institution when there was an accident and the Minerals Commission had also failed to engage the community, as stipulated in the mining regulations.
Victims not illegal miners
Mr Azumah indicated that the assertion that the victims of the disaster were illegal miners was not true and called for befitting compensation for their families and relatives.
The acting Upper East Regional Chairman of the Small-Scale Miners Association, Mr Robert Tampoare, said the deaths were too many for them to bear.
“There is no institution or department without somebody controlling it. The activities of my colleagues and their investor partners are not doing good for Talensi, but I don’t blame them; I blame the authorities. They continue to kill our people and no one cares,” he stated.
He added that if the Shaanxi Mining Company was doing sustainable mining, according to the law, it would not be killing innocent youth.
After the press conference, the bodies of the deceased which had gone through autopsy were released to their families for burial.
Shaanxi Mining responds
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Shaanxi Mining Company, Mr Maxwell Wooma, said safety standards within mining companies were determined by the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission and not by individual miners.
He said the company had satisfied the safety requirements of the Minerals Commission over the years in their operations, which was the reason it had not recorded any major casualty in its operations, indicating that all the incidents that happened over the years involved illegal miners but people always wanted to associate the incidents with the company as an alibi.
“On behalf of the Shaanxi Mining Company, we wish to commiserate with the bereaved families. Those who have died are our brothers and we believe even one life must not be lost in the course of looking for their livelihood.
“We wish to plead with them to remain calm, while investigations go on,” he told the Daily Graphic yesterday.