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Three dead in Ghana gold mine incident

27 April 2015

Three people died and 14 others required medical treatment after inhaling toxic fumes at a gold mine in Ghana, the company running the operation said on April 24. One of the victims is currently in critical condition whilst the rest have been treated and discharged.

Stock image
Stock image

"We can confirm that three people have died out of the inhalation of toxic fumes from our underground operations," said a spokesman for the Shaanxi Mining Company Ltd.

The company, a subsidiary of the China Gold Resources Company Ltd, said the three were among 17 people who had to be rescued and taken to hospital in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region. It said those affected were two groups of underground "cleaners" tasked with cleaning rock particles after blasting in the mine.

The spokesman said this is the first time that such an accident had happened and the company adheres strictly to the mining regulations and safety standards for the more than five years it had been operating the mine.

Mine management and the inspectorate division of the minerals commission said they would conduct a full scale investigation to establish the cause of the fatalities. The spokesman said the company would look at compensation packages for the bereaved families when the investigation was complete.

Ghana is Africa's second largest gold producer and the industry involves a number of major players in the sector but small-scale, illegal gold mining has been a persistent problem and accidents frequent.

In 2010, at least 45 people were killed when an illegal gold mine collapsed after heavy rains while in November 2009, at least 18 people, including 14 women, were killed.

Several Chinese are involved in small-scale mining, often crossing illegally from neighbouring countries, despite strict laws that prohibit foreigners from engaging in such activities in Ghana.

The West African nation has recently seen a sharp rise in tensions and violent conflict between local residents and illegal Chinese gold miners, who have flocked to the West African nation in large numbers and reportedly caused major environmental damage via the use of heavy machinery.

In 2013, Ghana's government said it expelled 4,700 illegal miners, most of them Chinese, attracted to the country by prospecting.
 


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