Mining companies have been urged to provide all requisite safety gadgets at their workplaces, to ensure the safety of workers, and extend it to neighbouring communities.
Mrs. Esther Obeng Dapaah, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, made the call at this year's National First Aid/Safety Competition of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, held at the Ahafo Mine site of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, Kenyasi.
She also called on employees to observe all safety rules and regulations in discharging their duties, to avoid preventable incidents.
Mrs. Dapaah noted that recent reports of fatalities from the mining companies were worrying, particularly reports of the deaths of illegal miners in pits and underground concessions of mining companies.
The Minister stated that the government expected the mining companies to play a complementary role in developing the mining sector, to make Ghana a preferred mining investment destination in Africa, hence the need to making the safety of employees a priority.
“Government acknowledges the immense contribution of the mining industry towards the socio-economic development of the nation, particularly in the area of community development, which comes in the forms of schools, health facilities and water among others, but safety must be a priority aside all these,” Mrs. Dapaah stressed.
Ms. Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, stressed that a safe working environment helped improve and motivate human capital, which in turn improves productivity.
She, therefore, urged the mining companies to consider safety of the workers a priority, to increase productivity to achieve their set targets.
According to Ms. Aryee, the importance of the National First Aid/Safety Competition could not be devalued, since it offered mine employees the platform to examine their knowledge and competence in the area of safety, and also ensure that mine employees were better equipped to handle unforeseen hazards.
She said though it cost a lot of money to ensure safety in the mining environments, the actual cost of doing nothing to promote safe working environments was significantly higher.
Ms. Aryee disclosed that a Chamber Technical Committee had been commissioned as a sub-committee, to review recent accident cases at the mine sites, and come out with recommendations to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
She said through effective collaboration between the Chief Inspector of Mines and the Chamber's Technical Committee, a number of other useful initiatives had been undertaken to promote the mining industry, by training people in the host communities on basic health and safety.
The CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines expressed concern over the alarming rate of illegal miners in the country, disclosing that the University of Mines and Technology had agreed to collaborate with the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission, to develop appropriate structures to curb such destructive practices, and promote small-scale mining businesses.
Mr. Adriaan Van Kessea, Ahafo Regional Vice President of Operations of Newmont Ghana Gold, disclosed that more than $130,000 had been spent to host the Zonal and National Safety competitions, which indicated that Newmont was committed to ensuring safety in all its activities.
He said during the zonal competition, a workshop segment was introduced to participating teams, to learn new ways of dealing with emergencies.
Participating teams included, AngloGold Ashanti Mines, Ghana Manganese Company, Newmont Ghana Gold, Aboaso Gold Mines Community, Golden Star Community of Wassa and Golden Star Community from Achimpem.
They were all honoured with trophies for their impressive performances.