16 killed in Ghana gold mine accident

A boy sits beside the pit after the roof of an illegal goldmine collapsed at Dunkwa on-Offin on June 27, 2010. (AFP pic)

ACCRA: Sixteen people were killed in an accident at a gold mining site in northern Ghana, a local official said on Thursday, prompting the authorities to launch an investigation.

The accident happened in the Talensi area of the Upper East region early on Wednesday near a site operated by China’s Shaanxi Mining Company Limited.

The exact circumstances were not immediately clear.

“The death toll is 16,” local government leader Christopher Boatbil told AFP, adding that management of a local mining firm had also been arrested.

“The regional security council has come to join the district security council and we are going to the community to interact with the people and get a lot of information.

A Shaanxi spokesman, Maxwell Wooma, said the victims were all illegal miners and that none of its staff was involved.

Ghana is Africa’s second-largest gold producer and exports of the yellow metal, along with other minerals and oil, drive the country’s economy.

The industry involves a number of major global players but small-scale, illegal mining known locally as “galamsey”, which has been a persistent problem, causing frequent accidents.

In April last year, six miners were killed and two injured when the roof of a tunnel collapsed at a gold mining site operated by US-based Newmont in Ghana’s southern region.

In July 2017, at least 22 people were killed after an illegal goldmine collapsed in western Ghana.

In April 2015, three people died and 14 others required medical treatment after inhaling toxic fumes at the Shaanxi mine.