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President orders probe into deadly mining pit cave-ins

Colleagues assist a gold miner who was trapped by debris after a pit caved in.

President David Granger on Monday ordered a wide-ranging probe into the collapse of mining pits, following the recent spate of incidents that has left more than 12 persons dead in May and June 2015. Back in 2013, four Brazilians were killed in a similar manner in Guyana.

Launched by the Minister of Governance in the Ministry of the Presidency, Raphael Trotman on Granger’s directive, the probe would be conducted by a multi-stakeholder committee.

It is expected that by July 31, 2015, a Report detailing the Committee’s findings along with recommendations for immediate and long-term actions will be submitted to the Minister of Governance for implementation.

Government assured that the probe team would comprise individuals knowledgeable and competent in their respective fields.

Government said the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) would be expected to hand over any material that might assist the three-member committee that includes a representative from the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA).

“The inquiry is to be conducted by a multi-stakeholder Committee, who will work independent of the Commission but is authorised to request any relevant information from any employee through the Commissioner of GGMC in order to carry out its functions,” said the Ministry of the Presidency in a statement.

Government hinted that one of the areas to be thoroughly examined  are court injunctions that block he GGMC from inspecting and halting risky mining operations. Such was the case at Pepper Creek, Region 8 where 10 miners were killed and several others injured last month when a badly constructed mining pit caved in.  Authorities said such Court Orders have blocked GGMC from “from executing their mandate that in many instances may have prevented injury and the loss of life.”

The President’s Ministry said the probe was prompted by numerous reports of miners being killed and injured. “The issue of safety in the mining sector is one of paramount importance to this administration. In recent times, a number of reports have reached the Ministry of the Presidency and the general public about the collapse of pits and other incidents resulting in the injury and some cases, deaths of miners,” said the ministry.

The Ministry of the Presidency stated that Guyana’s Human Capital is of pivotal importance to the sector and the country as a whole and cannot be lost to what may appear to be avoidable situations.