Players in the mining sector have been urged to pay attention not only to the efficient and effective exploitation of the resource but, more importantly, ensure safety to themselves, environment, equipment and operations.
The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. Nii Osah Mills, who made the call, added that no mining operation was worth undertaking if issues of health and safety were not guaranteed.
He was speaking at the 2014 National First Aid & Safety Week celebrations at AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine at Tarkwa in the Western Region.
The National First Aid and Safety Week Celebration is an annual event on the mining calendar which is observed by all mining companies in the country and organized under the auspices of the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission of the Chamber of Mines.
The event seeks to draw the attention of industry players and stakeholders on the need to effectively promote health and safe working environment.
This year’s celebrations were took place on the theme ‘If Not Safe, Don’t Do It’.
The week-long activity started with a health walk, followed by inter-mine community volley ball competition, clean-up campaign, media awareness on EVD and cholera infection and a medical outreach programme, with an inter-mine and community safety competition as its climax.
The sector Minister reminded mining companies that they were required by law to have their Environmental Impact Assessment and Operating Plans approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals Commission (IDMC) before licenses and operating permits were issued to them to mine in Ghana.
The Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapreim Mine, Mr Sicelo Ntuli, who accompanied the sector Minister and his entourage on a tour of the mining site to have a firsthand experience of the operations of the mine, expressed the company’s delight of hosting this year event as safety, he said, was number one on their priority list and entrenched on their organizational culture. “For us, safety is our value and remains our number one priority in everything we do. It is, indeed; deeply entrenched in our organizational culture and we make conscious efforts to ensure that the best health and safety practices are adhered to by all our employees and contractors as a demonstration of living our value”, he emphasized.
Mr Ntuli said their resolve to ensure safety at the workplace had led to the adoption of a more open and inclusive leadership culture, whereby workers at all levels participated in safety improvement.
The company, he said, believed in an environment where people were empowered and willing to go beyond the call of duty to look after their own safety and that of others.
Elaborating on other safety measures of the Iduapriem Mines, he said, breathalyzers had been installed on the mine to prevent people who had taken in alcohol from entering the mine.
In addition, Mr Ntuli said, the company had also developed an education programme to create awareness on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the community and workplace.
The Western Regional Minister, Hon. Paul Evans Aidoo, in a statement read on his behalf, commended the Chamber of Mines for adhering to the highest attainable health and safety standards in the industry and appealed to them not to relent on their oars.
For his part, the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr Sulemanu Koney, assured stakeholders of the Chamber’s commitment to providing a safe, congenial and healthy working environment for their employees and community members, adding that recorded cases of fatalities had dropped by 47% and that of Serious Injuries fell by 38% in 2013 as a result of safety precautions in the mine.
In a welcome address, the District Chief Executive Officer, Hon. Christina Kobinah, lauded the collaboration that existed between the mining companies and the Assembly and thanked them for their support.
Hon. Kobina expressed the hope that the mining companies would continue to address the concerns of the communities in which they operated.
Source: ISD (Victoria Antwi Sarpong)