The company at the centre of the explosion that occurred at Appiate in the Prestea Huni-Valley Municipality of the Western Region, Maxam Ghana Limited, has insisted that it never breached safety regulations in the transportation of explosives, but was quick to declare its commitment to paying the government’s $6 million fine.
A statement from the government yesterday, said the fine was imposed after a report of the three-member committee constituted by the Minister to undertake independent investigations into the matter affirmed some regulatory breaches on the part of the company, in the manufacture, storage, and transportation of explosives for mining and other civil works.
“Based on a different interpretation of the applicable regulations, we believe that Maxam has not committed any of those breaches, however, to ensure the continuity of the business, to be able to supply our customers, to protect the employment of our workers and sub-contractors, Maxam has decided to pay the fine and will comply with the measures of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources,” a portion of a statement issued by Maxam Ghana Limited said.
The government earlier suspended the license of Maxam Ghana Limited days after its truck transporting explosives to Chirano Gold Mines was involved in a huge explosion, resulting in the death and injury of over 100 persons.
The government has subsequently given Maxam Ghana Limited a set of measures to comply with, as a condition to the restoration of its permit.
The company promised to adhere to the new regulatory measures announced by the Ministry, adding that it will “continue to conduct its operations in accordance with the laws of Ghana and international best practices.”
The tragedy has triggered a debate about compliance to safety regulations as provided under the Minerals and Mining (Explosives) Regulations, 2012 (L.I 2177).
Per Regulation 33- (Permit to transport explosives):
1) A person who holds an operating licence under regulations 22 to 27 may apply for a permitted asset out in Form P in the Second Schedule to transport a specific type and amount of explosives
2) A person who transports under a Form P permit shall give notice to the Chief Inspector about the type and amount of explosives to be transported at least forty-eight hours before the explosives are transported.
Maxam Company Limited was fined cedi equivalent of US$6,000,000 at the prevailing commercial rate for regulatory breaches in respect to manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives for mining.
This is made up of an administrative cost of the cedi equivalent of one million United States Dollars (US$1,000,000.00), at the prevailing commercial rate and cedi equivalent of five million United States Dollars(US$5,000,000.00) at the prevailing commercial rate.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in a press release dated February 7,2022 stated that the fine is as a result of a report from a three-member committee led by Mr. Benjamin Aryee, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission which found the mining company guilty of some regulatory breaches.
According to the ministry, the report, submitted on February 1, 2022 showed that Maxam Co. Limited breached manufacture, storage and transportation regulations and that led to the explosion at Appiatse.
The statement indicated that the breaches, per L.I.2177, attract fines ranging from six hundred cedis (GHC600.00) to ten thousand United States Dollars (US$10,000).
However, looking at the nature and circumstances that led to the tragic incident, the Minister has imposed an administrative fine of the cedi equivalent of one million United States dollars (US$1,000,000.00) at the prevailing commercial rate.
“Nonetheless, having regard to the nature and totality of the circumstances leading to this tragic incident, I, as the Minister responsible for lands and natural resources and therefore, the overseer of the activities in the sector have imposed an administrative of the cedi equivalent of one million United States Dollars (US$1,000,000.00), at the prevailing commercial rate on Maxam.”
The one million dollars fine is to be paid before the company’s permit to manufacture, supply, store and transport explosives is restored.
The second amount of five million dollars will be paid in monthly installments for eighteen months starting on the 1st of March, 2022 to 1st August, 2023.
The company will pay an amount of two hundred and seventy seven thousand, seven hundred and seven US dollars and seventy eight cents (US$277,777.78) or its cedi equivalent at the prevailing commercial rate from March 1, 2022 and every other first day of the month constituting the eighteen months.
The Ministry also included some conditions the mining company has to meet before its permit to operate is restored.
The conditions to be met by the mining company include its inability to transport explosives unless a 48-hour notice has been given to the chief inspector of mines or the regional mines inspector.
The company must also have an inspector of mines present to verify, inspect and log designated explosives for transportation.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, added that the measures prerequisite for Maxams permit restoration is applicable to all other companies operating in Ghana in the manufacture, supply, transportation and use of explosives.
It included that, regulatory breaches and sanctions against Jocyderk Logistics Limited and Arthanns Enterprise and Transport Service, who were also involved in the tragic incident are being reviewed and would be communicated and applied in due course.
On Thursday, 20th January 2022, a truck transporting Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil (ANFO) from Maxam Ghana Limited’s explosive plant caught fire and exploded.
The explosion blew the Appiatse community into pieces. Thirteen persons reportedly died with hundreds sustaining injuries.
In a related development, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has established a Ministerial Committee of Inquiry under the Chairmanship of Professor Richard Amankwah, Vice Chancellor of the George Paa Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa to review the existing laws, regulations and guidelines on health and safety standards in the mining industry.
The Committee is also to inquire into any matter relating to health and safety in the mining industry as well as to undertake a general review of the health and safety regime in the mining industry.
This was contained in a press statement issued in Accra on February 7 2022, and signed by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor said the Committee had one month from Monday February 7, 2022 to present its report and submit its recommendations to the government for reforms.
He also charged the Committee to make recommendations to the government for legislative, policy, and other reforms it may deem fit.
The statement explained that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is putting in place all these measures to ensure that mining and mine support services are conducted in a safe and healthy environment that poses no danger to life and or property.
The statement concluded that the government assures the country that it will continue to take the appropriate measures to ensure health and safety in the mining and mine support services industry.