Bogoso explosion: stakeholders disagree on Maxam’s closure
Adnan Adams Mohammed The Government’s decision to order for the closure of Maxam Ghana Limited and Jocyderk Logistics Limited has attracted mix reaction by major stakeholders in the gold mining industry. A Senior Manager in charge of Mining at AngloGold Ashanti Iduaprim mines, Steven Asante Yamoah believes the closure of Maxam Company Limited will have adverse impact on the operations of over six mining companies in the country. Although, he supports the Minerals Commission’s decision to regulate the manufacture and transport of explosives following the Appiate disaster, he wished the closure decision is reconsidered. But, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has justified that it is important the companies do not operate until investigations are completed. “They (Maxam) supply AngloGold Ashanti, Chirano mines, Persus Mines, Ghana Manganese Company, Adamus Mining Limited and Awaso Bauxite. So this directive will have significant impact on our industry if we don’t put in remedial actions immediately”, Steven Asante Yamoah expressed in an interview last week. “So we are working through the Minerals Commission and other explosive suppliers in the country to see how we close this gap during this period.” “Our first expectation as industry players is the enforcement of the regulation. Though the directive will have far-reaching consequences on the industry as far as production is concerned, we are in support of it because it is consistent with the laws of the land. We will work closely with the regulator and also the service providers to make sure that we reduce the impact of this directive to the bearers minimum”, he said. However, a letter from the Ministry to the Minerals Commission revealed that preliminary investigations showed that Maxam Ghana Limited sub-contracted Jocyderk Logistics Limited, a company registered by the Minerals Commission, to transport the said explosives on behalf of Maxam Ghana Ltd. “I recently met the Ghana Chamber of Mines, and they have given me a breakdown of the impact the suspension will have on their work and on the national economy. I’m not oblivious of that, I’m fully aware. The reason why this decision was taken was so that we are not groping in the dark so that we understand the issues at the base level. We don’t want the scenario where we allow them to work, and then another explosion occurs”, the letter signed by Samuel Abdulai Jinapor indicated. “The responsible thing to do in circumstances like this is that you put a halt on the operations of the company until such a time you are reasonably satisfied that even if you were to lift the suspension, you would not have an immediate recurrence of this incident. So that’s the reason for the suspension,” he added. Meanwhile, touching to the performance of Maxam Company Limited which is a Spanish entity, the Senior Manager at AngloGold Ashanti Iduaprim mines, said Maxam has for over 30 years been offering responsible mining support services in explosives to several mines including Anglogold Ashanti hence their sudden closure will have a significant impact on their productivity. “We started business with them for almost 30 years now and we have kept them on our mines, being in partnership for all this while. So in terms of their performance, I have no reservation. Of course, being an entity that aspires to excellence, sometimes you identify a shortcoming and you fix them within the shortest possible time…and that shows how as a service provider they respond to improve the area of safety and compliance to regulations.” “So I have no reservations that they are a good service provider. However, as the Minerals Commission has earlier said, the closure is in the interest of all of us, thus, industry, the service provider and the country to make sure that during this period we go into the matter to find out what happened“, he added. Consequently, the Western Regional Manager of the Minerals Commission, Isaac Mwinbellen, after handing over the shutdown documents to Maxam’s Plant Manager, Emerald Takyi, noted that Maxam Limited cannot be blamed for any wrongdoing until investigations into the incident are completed. “We have not completed investigations, and we cannot say that Maxam has gone wrong in any of this. We are still going through investigations. Remember that the Police are also doing their investigations on the spot.” “Till we put all these pieces together and look at the requirements, then we will be able to tell who is culpable and who is not. But at this stage, we cannot tell who is culpable or not. We are still in the process of investigations. Until investigations are completed, we cannot say someone is culpable or not.” Besides Maxam Company Limited, there are other mining explosive makers and suppliers like AEL Mining Services from South Africa and Solar Nitro as well as Wilep Supply and RedBlock who are rather agents that provide explosive services to the mining industry in the Western Region.