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05.12.2005 General News

Bibiani Mine wins National Safety Competition

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Akyempim (W/R), Dec. 5, GNA - Anglogold Ashanti Bibiani Mine at the weekend emerged champions of this year's National Mines Safety Competition held at Akyempim in the Wassa Mpohor East District of the Western Region.

It scored 81.1 points out of one hundred in oral and practical tests.

Anglogold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine came second with 80 points, Anglogold Ashanti Obuasi Mine took the third position with 78.8 and Abosso Goldfields Limited came fourth with 77.1 points. The competition was on the theme: "Health and Safety at the Mine: Expanding the frontiers to host communities". In an address, Prof Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, said there would be great improvement in the mining sector if the new mining bill were passed into law.

He said it had been realized that there were some shortcomings in the existing law.

Prof Fobih said advocates of the old law were only confusing issues saying they were not doing the nation any good. The Minister said the new mining bill had taken into accounts comments from the public in the preparation and processing, "so despite limitations and shortcomings people should not be confused that the nation will be better off under the old mining law". He said he was working on a scheme with government whereby some Minerals Development Fund would be channelled to communities to support and assist projects.

Prof Fobih announced that a special fund would be set up in the mining districts and monies from the central point would be channelled into it, adding "the district assemblies would be compelled to put part of their royalties into the fund". He said a committee made up of members of the communities, the mining companies in the district, and representatives of the Minerals Commission and Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines would manage the fund.

The Minister said there had been a disturbing spate of incidents of cyanide spillage in some mines, which went beyond the confines of their operational areas into the environment, thereby affecting water sources.

He said although the effect on the neighbouring communities was minimal, the panic created and the inevitable reaction from the communities, civil society organizations and a media hype did not only embarrass the Ministry, but also damaged the reputation of the mining industry.

He said it was reassuring to learn that accidents as well as occupational health and safety statistics on the mines had improved immensely, saying in 1997, out of 292 accidents reported, there were 26 fatalities but in 2004, only 61 serious accidents occurred with 5 fatalities