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Spanish explosives company fined £4.4 million for Ghana truck blast that killed 13

14 February 2022

A Spanish explosives company has been fined $6 million (£4.4 million) by Ghana's Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources after one of the company’s trucks was involved in an explosion on January 21 which killed 13 people and injured at least 100 others.

Image: Ghana's Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources
Image: Ghana's Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources

The truck, which belonged to Madrid-based Maxam Corp, had been transporting explosives to the internationally-run Chirano gold mine in the west of Ghana when it collided with a motorbike, caught fire, and exploded. The blast destroyed a nearby village, killing 13 people and injuring at least 100 others, many of whom suffered life-changing injuries.

According to Ghana's Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Maxam Corp had violated storage and transport laws in relation to the transportation of explosives. While it did not specify the exact laws or regulations which were broken, the department said it had imposed a $1 million (£739,000) administrative fee for breaching regulations and a $5 million (£3.7 million) fine for damages.

According to Reuters news agency, Maxam Corp had used the services of a local firm called Arthanns Logistics to transport the explosives and that the violations were the fault of that company. The lands ministry said that it would investigate Arthanns, as well as another local logistics firm, for possible ties to the incident.

According to news reports, the truck was on fire for almost 45 minutes before it exploded, with locals being able to walk up and surround the truck to take photos and videos without the police or firefighters stopping them.

In a statement on February 14, the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. George Mireku Duker, stressed that sanctions and the fine imposed on Maxam were not intended to “cripple or intimidate firms in the extractive industry.”

He said the department’s actions had been to ensure that all the relevant laws and regulations governing the mining sector are adhered to and ensure that incidents like these are avoided. The statement added that Mireku Duker had visited a site operated by Maxam to ascertain if new safety measures were being met by the company. The Deputy Minister expressed satisfaction with progress made by the company, however he noticed some challenges which he will bring to the attention of the Sector Minister, the statement concluded.

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