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Arrest ‘Kwasi Bantama’ over deaths of 16 illegal miners

The Shaanxi Mining Company, which provides technical support to Yenyeya and Pubortaaba mining enterprises at Gbane in the Upper East Region, has asked for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Kwasi Appiah, alias Kwasi Bantama, for causing the death of 16 miners at Gbane in January this year.

According to the Branch Chairman of Shaanxi Mining Company Workers Union, Anagbire Michael, Kwasi Bantama routinely recruited the youth on a nightly basis into Shaanxi underground pits to steal ore shortly after the company undertook blasting.

Following the explosion on January 23, 2019, which killed the 16 illegal miners, the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission probed into the cause of the accident, and recently released its findings.

Shaanxi Mining Company was fined $40,000 for operational infractions, while Kwasi Bantama, a small scale miner squatting on the concession of Yenyeya and Pubortaaba mining enterprises, was to be severely sanctioned for recruiting the illegal miners and sending them underground where Shaanxi Mining Company had undertaken a blast.

The Shaanxi works also wanted Kwesi Bantama to be instructed to compensate the families of those who died in the explosion.

“The investigation report from the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission has revealed that Kwesi Bantama recruited and used 25 young men in his pit. However, despite the clarity of this report, the illegal miners continue to push blame on our company (Shaanxi).”

They have advised the government not entertain any form of illegal mining, hence, ignore the petition of a group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Talensi against Shaanxi Mining Company.

Their request included a plea to the Attorney General to be proactive in its steps to go to court to set aside an injunction against the sealing of all illegal pits as directed by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.

In the petition presented to the District Chief Executive of Talensi, Dr. Christopher Boatbil, by Mr. Anagbire, the workers commended the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Minerals Commission for a speedy investigation into the accident, saying, but for the timely lifting of the ban on Shaanxi Mining Company, some of them would have been faced with severe hardship, as well as their dependents.

On placards displayed during the demonstration were inscriptions such as: “Kwasi Bantama must be arrested”, “Shaanxi must work again”, “Concerned Citizen Group are Galamseyers, ignore them.”

The workers further appealed to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to ensure that its directive for the closure of all illegal pits in the Gbane mining community was adhered to, to avert a possible future occurrence.

According to them, many of the accidents and deaths were recorded in the illegal pits, and whenever this occurred, Shaanxi Company was blamed for what was never its fault.

“Even though the resumption of work order has come as a refreshing news to the over 600 workers of the company, we are worried that there aren’t any visible measures on the ground to avert the recurrence of that 23rd January 2019 mishap.

“Our attention has been drawn to parts of the report of the investigation into the accident, which indicates unequivocally that the illegal pits used by the illegal miners to access our underground operations should be sealed before 31st March 2019. Today is April 3, and yet, nothing has been done about those illegal pits.”

The District Chief Executive of Talensi, Christopher Boatbil, who received the petition of the demonstrators, assured them of onward submission to the government through the Upper East Regional Minister.

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